Friday, May 10, 2013


I've been exploring ways to be and stay healthy—food choices, exercise, sleep, and some quiet time to think and reflect. Over the course of the month, I’ll be sharing things I've discovered. One of the things I have been doing daily, regardless of the season, is getting outside in the sunshine. I've become a bit of a sun-worshiper and I find it has helped me immensely. 

People need sunshine to function optimally. Being outdoors in the sun builds strong bones, a stronger immune system, helps your body regulate calcium, lowers your blood pressure, promotes clearer skin, and a healthier brain. Vitamin sunshine is also known as vitamin D and is one of those vitamins that is made by our bodies by being in the sunshine and in contact with UVB radiation.

According to Scientific American, vitamin D protects our neurons and reduces inflammation in the body. The data from recent studies show that those people with lower vitamin D levels showed slower information processing speed and lower cognitive functions. They went on to say:  "Three-quarters of U.S. teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D..." Wow! 

As writers we spend an enormous amount of time indoors and in front of the computer. It’s basically an inactive lifestyle and not at all healthy for us. Aside from losing tone and gaining pounds we don’t get enough vitamin sunshine—or vitamin D.

Vladimir Volegov
How to counter balance that deskbound lifestyle and increase our productivity?

Get outside. Take a walk in the sunshine.

There are three immediate benefits.  It will clear your mind when it’s feeling sluggish, unable to concentrate, or feeling restless and slow. The second benefit is a walk or run will give you needed exercise. The third benefit is the sunlight will provide your body with much needed vitamin D. 

Did you know that your body could produce vitamin D in as little as 10-15 minutes (or up to 30 if you have a darker skin tone) in bright sunlight? You need to be exposing at least 25% of your body. That’s a bit harder to do in the winter. 

How much sun is safe without suncreen?  

Skin pigmentation affects how much radiation your skin absorbs. The darker the skin, the more it's protected against skin cancer but the less able it is to absorb UVB rays. It also depends upon how much skin is exposed and the time of day. If you're fair skinned and sunning yourself outside in a bathing suit at noon, you only need a few minutes without sunscreen. If you're already tan or of Hispanic origin, you need maybe 15 to 20 minutes (approximately twice a week) to produce the amount of vitamin D your body requires.

Do carry your sunblock but allow your skin at least 10-15 without applying it as sunblocks interfere with allowing your skin to absorb the needed UVBs. Rule of thumb: Getting half the amount of exposure that it takes for your skin to turn to pink. If you want a longer walk or run then by all means apply sunscreen.

UV radiation doesn't penetrate glass. Sitting in front of a closed window doesn't make vitamin D. Your best bet is to take a walk in the noonday sunshine—especially in the winter when the sun’s rays are at too much of an angle. This happens during the early and later part of the day and during most of the day during the winter season. Midday gives the best angle to produce vitamin D. Another option is a UVB light or UVB (high density UVA isn't recommended) tanning bed in the winter.

There are other ways to get, or supplement  your vitamin D but that’s another article.

So the next time you hit that writer block, have problems concentrating, or feel sluggish or restless?  Go grab some vitamin sunshine—it really does a body good


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My wife and I take walks now and then, but if I'm mowing the law, on goes the strongest SPF I can find.

~Sia McKye~ said...

That's smart, Alex. Too much of a good thing is bad on many levels. SPF is wise and although it can interfere with vitamin D in the short run, it still allows your body to make vitamin D in the long run. I don't burn easily but I use sunblock when I'm going to be out in the sun for long periods of time. Sunburn is not a good thing for your skin or body and it's dangerous.

Jo said...

You're so right it's dangerous, my mother put herself in hospital for a week after falling asleep on her stomach in the wateriest sun possible. Matt and I both expose our skin for about half an hour at a time so we don't burn and then once we have a good colour, we can soak up lots more Vit. D.


Liza said...

My scheduled had changed which has interfered with my walking schedule. I miss them for so many reasons...many of which you mention here. Walks are healthy and inspirational. I need to get back into the habit.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia .. couldn't agree more - and we haven't had much sun recently - I managed to get out last weekend .. and this I'm hoovering .. a necessity that needs to be done by next week ...

Life just goes on - but walks have been around .. and yes Vitamin D is excellent for us ..

Cheers Hilary

DL Hammons said...

I've taken to walking with my wife lately and lazy strolls in the sunshine are awesome...followed by a rejuvenating nap of course! :)

Old Kitty said...

Oh I so agree!! Sunshine and all its benefits are not to be missed!! But yes, please bring along sun blocker and use asap too! Wishing you a sun-filled and beautiful Mother's Day today! Take care