The Real Health Benefits of Getting Some Sun
By Author Name
May 12, 2020
Updated Oct 25, 2023
5 min read
Getting too much sun is dangerous for your skin. However, contrary to what sunscreen companies and vampires have led you to believe, getting some sun every day is actually quite good for you. The sun loads your body with beneficial vitamins and hormones. You can’t see it happening, but you can feel it. It’s there when you walk outside on a sunny day and you get that warm hug feeling right before your nice shirt is stained with pit sweat. Sunlight releases serotonin (the happiness hormone) in your brain, boosts your bone health, and actually might help treat several skin conditions.
Have you ever wondered why you feel more irritable and moody in the colder months? Well, it might not only be because your favorite ice cream stand is closed and baseball season has ended. It could also be because you’re lacking sun exposure. When the sun hits your skin, your brain is triggered to release a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting your mood and helping you feel calm and focused. Without sun exposure, your serotonin levels dip, which can be associated with a higher risk of major depression and generally feeling down in the dumps. So, before you start journaling about your feelings, and putting on that old Leonard Cohen album, try getting out in the sun and see how that makes you feel.
Vitamin D is another health benefit given to us by our oldest pal in the sky. Vitamin D plays a big role in bone health and low Vitamin D levels have been linked to rickets in children and bone diseases like osteoporosis. So how much sun do you need to get enough Vitamin D? It only takes 5-15 minutes of sunlight exposure on your arms, hands and face to get your daily value. The darker your complexion, the more time in the sun. Forget choking down a chalky vitamin every morning, just get outside for a bit and let the sun do its thing.
Another benefit of the sun is that it can actually treat skin conditions. Now, you’ve probably been warned ever since you were a kid about the dangers of becoming a sunburnt lobster, so you might be wondering how the sun can actually treat skin conditions. Well, according to a little group called the World Health Organization, it’s true. Doctors have recommended UV radiation exposure to treat things like psoriasis, acne, jaundice, and eczema. So before you run out and start lathering your face with creams and wipes, give the sun a chance to play doctor.
Finally, it’s important to note that we do recommend sunscreen. If you’re going to be outside for more than 15 minutes, you should protect your skin. Applying a sunscreen of at least SPF 15 is a good idea.
Dr. Jared Heaton, a Dermatologist in Billings, Montana, says it's important to remember: "There is no such thing as a health tan. The best thing you can do to keep your skin looking young and healthy and prevent fine lines and wrinkles is to use sunscreen on your face daily."
Wearing a protective hat and shirt helps as well. But don’t let that stop you from getting some sun. Getting your daily dose of sun can also be a nice way to break up your day. Go for a walk, listen to the birds, and let the sun warm your skin. It’ll boost your mood, and as long as you don’t answer to a guy named Dracula, it’ll provide a myriad of health benefits.