Wednesday, June 30th, 2021
The past year and a half has made us all increasingly aware of our immunity. Some immune systems may be a little weaker after remaining in isolation for so long. There is a very simple and fun way to boost your immunity naturally. All it requires is stepping outside into the sunshine! The benefits of the outdoors are innumerable. Let’s explore just some of the benefits to your well-being both physically and mentally by being outside.
Boost Your Mood
One of the best and most obvious benefits of being out in the sun is vitamin D. Vitamin D is a great defense against illnesses including Covid-19. You can get vitamin D from a supplement, but its most potent source is from the sun itself.
Vitamin D is also a great, natural mood booster! Seasonal depression comes from a lack of vitamin D during the colder months when we may spend more time indoors. So if you ever feel a little out of sorts, go for a stroll in the sunshine or even just sit in the sun.
Not only is vitamin D from the sun a great benefit of being outdoors, so is the fresh air! Oxygen is our literal life force and it is most plentiful in nature. Witnessing the beauty of nature has a calming, peaceful effect. Taking in the sights and sounds of the world around us can remind us of a purpose bigger than ourselves.
Make Your Heart Healthy
Another benefit to being outdoors is getting active! When you move your body, you increase blood flow to your heart. The heart is a large muscle. When we increase our heart rate through exercise, we are increasing the strength of that muscle.
Cardiovascular disease runs rampant throughout our nation. Simply going for a walk, playing a recreational sport, swimming or any light exercise can do wonders to decrease your risk of heart disease.
Exercise also releases lots of good endorphins, further contributing to our well-being. Endorphins block pain receptors and help decrease anxiety and depression. The more regularly you exercise, the better you will feel.
Now that many restrictions have been lifted, it’s important to cultivate community. Getting outside allows you to meet the people around you, build relationships and find ways to serve your community.
From waving hello to a neighbor, playing a team sport, or attending an outdoor event, all of these activities contribute to a healthy, happy individual. We were made to be in community. We thrive when we lean on one another for support and comradery.
Being around other people outdoors is still a safer way to congregate in groups as well. Some exchange of “germs” between people is important to build up our immune systems. In small amounts, those germs train our bodies to fight and build antibodies to guard against disease.
A Break from Screen Time
Constant streaming, scrolling, and virtual meetings have us glued to our screens for many hours each day. It’s important for the health of our eyes and our minds to cut it off once in a while. Give your brain a break and clear your mind with some time spent outside.
We spend so much time watching others live life on a screen, we sometimes forget to live it ourselves. There’s plenty of adventure and experiences for you, right outside your door.
Stay Safe in the Sun
With extra time outside, it’s important to keep in mind some safety precautions. Remember to use sun protection, especially when the sun’s rays are most intense. From about 10 am until 4 pm, the sun is high in the sky and our skin is most likely to suffer damage if left unprotected.
Wear a hat and use a minimum 30 SPF sunscreen when you’ll be exposed to the sun for longer than 10 minutes. As the temperature outside increases, be sure to stay well hydrated. Keep a bottle of water handy at all times.
Make it a goal to get outside for at least an hour each day! It will greatly improve your mood and your overall health.
Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020
We all know we need to protect ourselves from the sun. UV radiation can be harmful to our skin in multiple ways. It speeds up the aging process, suppresses the immune system, can cause sunburn, and increases our risk for skin cancer. Even synthetic UV rays from tanning beds can cause harm to our skin often creating an even higher risk of skin cancer.
During the month of July, we observe UV Safety Month. Throughout the month we will spread awareness about various ways to protect ourselves from harmful UV rays. Are you providing yourself and your loved ones with full protection? We want to share a few tips to make sure you aren’t missing anything.
During the Sun’s most direct rays, between 10 am and 4 pm, it’s important to seek out the shade when possible. If there’s no shade available, bring your own! A broad-rimmed hat or ball cap can provide extra shelter from the sun for your face. The skin on your face is one of the most vulnerable to the sun since it is always exposed.
Remember that UV rays may still be able to reach you, even in shade. This is most likely when you are near reflective surfaces like sand, snow, or water. So wear your sunscreen even in the shade.
What SPF should you be looking for in your Sunscreen? What does it even mean? SPF or Sun Protection Factor indicates how long you will be protected in the Sun. If you wear an SPF of 10, your skin will take 10 times longer to burn than it would if left unprotected. However, the FDA recommends using a minimum SPF of 15 and most doctors recommend a 30 SPF minimum.
No matter what SPF you choose, experts also say you should reapply every 2 hours. More frequent reapplication may be necessary when swimming or excessively sweating.
It’s also important to note that SPF only protects against UVB rays. UVB radiation damages the skin causing sunburn. But UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin causing aging and also posing the risk of skin cancer. Choosing a sunscreen labeled, “broad spectrum” or “full-spectrum” will protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
It’s easy to remember that we need sunscreen on our shoulders, back, arms, and legs. What about those places we commonly miss? Be sure to protect your ears, the part in your hair, and the tops of your feet. Lips are another important, but easily forgotten part of the body to protect. Wear a lip balm with SPF and reapply frequently.
Harmful UV rays are partly responsible for vision-related problems like macular degeneration and cataracts. So be sure to protect your eyes with sunglasses specifically labeled with 99% UV protection.
For more information on UV Safety Month, visit our Wellness Observance Calendar. You can also receive a free download of our entire 2020 Calendar to stay up to date on future Wellness Observances throughout the year.