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Spring has sprung, and summer’s on its way. We can finally get outside and start soaking in some sunshine. When enjoyed in moderation and with some common sense, sunlight is great for your health! Here are 5 reasons your body and mind can’t wait to soak up some rays:
There’s a reason they say a happy person has a “sunny disposition.” Sunlight triggers the feel-good brain chemical, serotonin, and stimulating cortisol, boosting your mood and decreasing your stress. It explains why some people feel sad and gloomy in the less-sunny winter months. Of course, being outside and exercising or just enjoying nature also helps us look on the bright side—but we can’t leave the warm sunshine out of the equation. 1,2
At the end of a sunny day spent outdoors, you’re ready for rest. Exposure to sunlight helps regulate our natural circadian rhythm via a special nerve pathway between the eye and the hypothalamus. While the sunlight sparks the release of serotonin and cortisol, melatonin is released when the sun goes down to help our bodies prepare to sleep.2 And a good night’s rest helps our bodies perform well tomorrow, when we can get back out into the sunshine again.
A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology suggests that sunlight alters nitric oxide levels in the skin and blood by widening blood vessels and reducing the pressure inside of them. This supports the observation that higher levels of blood pressure and cardiovascular disease are found in winter and in countries further from the equator. 3
Sunlight helps the body make Vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium and aids in muscle and brain health. The nutrient isn’t found in many food sources, so experts recommend exposing your bare (sunscreen-free) skin to ultraviolet B sunlight for 5 to 30 minutes, twice per week. Importantly, Vitamin D deficiency is linked to a wide range of health conditions including multiple sclerosis, prostate cancer, breast cancer, Crohn’s disease, pancreatic cancer, and arthritis. That’s a whole lot of reasons to ensure your Vitamin D levels are where they should be—and getting out into the sunshine is a great way to start.1, 4
Feeling the sun on your face and body just feels great. Beaches, water sports and pools are so much more fun when the sun is shining-and these are all great places for kids and adults to come together and relax.
But getting out under the sun’s healing rays comes with risks. With sunlight, there truly is “too much of a good thing.” Be sure you follow these in-the-sun guidelines from the Skin Cancer Foundation5:
And don’t forget sunglasses!
1 http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20960758,00.html. 2 https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/melatonin-and-sleep. 3 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140117090139.htm. 4 https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/how-do-i-get-the-vitamin-d-my-body-needs/. 5 http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/prevention-guidelines.
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Combined Insurance Company of America (Chicago, IL Illinois) is a leading provider of individual supplemental accident, disability, health, and life insurance products and a Chubb company. With a tradition of nearly 100 years of success, we have an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau and are one of Ward’s Top 50® Performing Life-Health Insurance Companies. Combined Insurance is also the number one Military Friendly® Employer in the over $1B revenue category for 2019 by VIQTORY. This is the company’s eighth consecutive year on the top 10 list and fifth consecutive year in the top 5—Combined Insurance was previously named the number one Military Friendly® Employer in the nation for 2015 and 2016. In New York, products are underwritten by Combined Life Insurance Company of New York (Latham, NY).
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