Not so long ago, verandahs, lush lawns, sunroofs, or patios were a must for any house. They definitely served some real purpose back then. Families used to spend some quality time in verandahs or lawns to have meals or tea together. Summer evenings used to be real fun. In the same way, sun-basking was mandatory in winters.
Even while penning this down, nostalgia just hit me hard. My childhood was full of happy summer evenings and enjoying winter’s sunshine. With family, grandparents, and cousins, spending quality time together while sun-basking was so much fun. Welcome to 2021. Trends have changed.
Now houses have leaned towards bigger indoors and smaller outdoors. Verandahs are not so popular anymore. People have started spending most of their time indoors. Unknowingly and without realizing it, most of us have started shunning sun exposure. Thanks to air conditioners in summers and heaters in winters, we no longer feel any urge to sit outdoor.
Since our childhood, we have been hearing about how too many sun rays can affect our skin in a bad way. Too much exposure to sunlight has been blamed for causing skin cancer.
Unconsciously we have been avoiding sun exposure for a long time. But have we ever realized that the right balance of sun rays is actually beneficial for our general well-being?
According to research led by Shia Kent from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, among participants with depression, low exposure to sunlight was associated with a significantly higher predicted probability of cognitive impairment. This relationship remained significant after adjustment for the season.
This means sunlight is really essential for our overall health. Let’s look at some of the reasons highlighting the importance of sunlight in our lives.
1. Manufactures Vitamin D and builds strong bones:
Little outdoor exposure to sunlight leads to a lack of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is vital for the absorption of calcium in the human body which leads to strong bones. This vitamin is an important factor that may have significant health benefits in the prevention and treatment of many chronic illnesses.
Currently, every third person is Vitamin D deficient.
The reason is very obvious: low exposure to sunlight. To counter the deficiency, doctors suggest Vitamin D tablets or injections to everyone.
Natural sources of Vitamin D include fish, cheese, egg yolk, and some dairy products. These all sources cannot provide Vitamin D the way sunshine does.
This is the reason it is called “the sunshine vitamin”. The sun is the best source of Vitamin D. Getting out in the sunshine for just 15 minutes is enough to boost the body’s vitamin D levels.
2. Beats Depression:
Sun rays may do more than just uplift your mood.
They increase the level of a natural antidepressant in the brain called serotonin. This hormone boosts your mood. Maybe this is the reason people develop symptoms of depression in winters as there is less sun exposure. Symptoms include fatigue, low energy, loss of interest in daily activities, and mood swings. The solution lies in the sunshine.
3. Warms up:
The sun breathes life into our lives and makes us feel alive. This is why people feel best when they go outdoors in the sunshine. Sun rays just warm up our whole body and cheer us up.
4. Beats SAD:
Lack of sunlight can cause seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which is generally known as winter blues. Increased exposure to sunlight can help a lot in beating this disorder.
5. Prevents SD:
MULTIPLE sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system, leading to tremors and even paralysis. One of the leading causes of this disease is low exposure to sunlight. This disease is less reported in sunnier countries.
6. Relieves body pains:
Sunlight warms up our body muscles and tends to help with body aches and pains. People with arthritis feel better in summers and worse in winters. The answer lies in the sunlight.
7. Helps to kill germs:
Scientists have discovered that a particular type of ultraviolet light emitted by rays of the sun can be very helpful at killing germs. No wonder our mothers and grandmothers have been keeping blankets, beddings, and different kinds of grains in sunlight throughout their lives to kill their germs.
Maybe that is why one always finds hotel rooms and guest houses of hilly areas often soggy especially on the icy, snowy, and rainy days of winters.
No one knows the exact measurement for how long one should get sun exposure to reap the benefits but one thing is for sure: low exposure to sunrays is dangerous for our overall wellbeing.
Sunshine is the best medicine. To reap the maximum benefits, enjoy some sunshine every day but don’t forget to apply sunblock to avoid the harmful rays.
This opinion article has been submitted by Hadia Rahman. She is an International Relations scholar by education, a former news anchor; an academician, freelance host, and writer by profession, and an environmentalist at heart. She tweets @hadiarah
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