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The Benefits of Responsible Sunbathing

Many people have grown more concerned with spending their time in the sun.  The effect from sun exposure has been in the limelight in recent years.  While there are many factors that contribute to an unhealthy relationship with the sun; poor diet, over-exposure, poor hydration, and environmental factors, spending time in the sun can actually be quite healing and support a healthy lifestyle.

There are actually many benefits to sun exposure.  One positive result from being in the sun is the effect it has on your brain.  By soaking in the sun, your brain produces serotonin and endorphins.  These hormones will elevate your mood and can help to decrease any feelings of depression.  Sunbathing has also been shown to increase one’s melatonin production.  Melatonin is a hormone secreted from the pineal gland that regulates our body’s internal clock.  By increasing the production of melatonin one can improve their chances of getting more restful sleep at night.  The sun can also help improve various skin conditions such as acne, rashes, eczema, and athlete’s foot.

The sun can also help regulate the development of hormones and lessen the severity of symptoms from PMS and menopause.  Sunbathing actually assists your liver with its process of detoxifying the body.  Exposure to the sun can increase blood cell counts and help improve circulation.  Perhaps the most well-known benefit of sunshine is its role in the development of Vitamin D.  When our skin is penetrated by the sun’s UV rays a chemical reaction occurs and vitamin D is formed within the body.  Vitamin D aids our immune system and increases calcium absorption; both of which will lead to better overall wellness.

Contrary to popular belief, wearing sunscreen is not the best way to protect yourself from the sun.  The majority of sunscreens found on drugstore shelves contain harmful chemicals.  By applying these sunscreens directly to the skin, you are allowing these chemicals to be absorbed into the body because the skin is the largest organ of your body, and because it is porous it absorbs everything.  The effects of these chemicals can last a lifetime.   If over exposure to the sun cannot be avoided, try finding a vegan sunscreen without any harmful chemicals.

It is important to know how to sunbathe responsibly, in order to receive the benefits without being over-exposed one must learn how long they can be in direct sunlight at one time based on their particular skin complexion.  Our skin complexion indicates the amount of melanin in the skin and thus how many UV rays our skin can safely absorb.  The lighter one’s skin is the less melanin they have.  Those with little melanin should be more cautious of over-exposure.  The sun is strongest between the hours of 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM, during these you should avoid lying in direct sunlight.  The safest way to expose your body to the sun is to do so gradually.  While sunbathing, one should never be in the sun long enough to obtain a burn any shade of red.

All things considered, sunbathing can be an easy way to maintain good health if proper precautions are taken.  Use the provided safety tips to protect your skin and gain the most benefits from the sun this summer and all year long!

Written by: Kivette Parkes, Naturopathic Doctor at The Lifestyle Clinic

References:

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/sunbathing-can-increase-life-expectancy-a6954976.html

http:// gentleworld.org/the-benefits-of-responsible-sunbathing/

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