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Fresh Air and Sunlight Offer Health Promoting Benefits

Posted on April 18, 2019 by Susan Robinson

Winter has finally past. After spending months indoors with less sunlight, the outdoors beckon us. Our mind and bodies crave fresh air and lots of sunshine, and we emerge joyfully.  According to Harvard Medical School, spending time outdoors substantially benefits our physical and mental health.  

Vitamin D Levels Increase

  • Whether we are gardening, golfing or taking a walk, 30 minutes in the sunshine can provide you a day’s supply of vitamin D, which is important for preventing osteoporosis and many other chronic illnesses including autoimmune conditions.

More Energy

  • When outside in fresh air, we take longer and deeper breaths, increasing oxygen to our cells. This, in turn, results in more energy and a clearer mind, especially if walking in nature, like a park or forest.
  • You will be more active, which means less television and computer time. 

Stress Reduction and Mood Boost

  • A 2008 study published in the Journal of Biological Regulators & Homeostatic Agents looked at the airborne chemicals emitted by plants and trees for protection. These chemicals, known as phytoncides, linger in forest fresh air. Participants in the study who walked in the forest showed more physical signs of relaxation, including lower blood pressure and reduction in the stress hormone, cortisol, than their city counterparts.   
  • Serotonin, the powerful brain chemical, increases when we have more exposure to sunlight, boosting mood, focus and calm feelings.    

Even though there are many benefits to being out in the sun, just like many things, moderation is the key.  Fifteen minutes without any protection is fine, but if you are going to be out longer, remember to wear sunscreen and a hat. 

 

Susan Robinson's picture
Susan Robinson is a co-program coordinator for “Thrive," and has been with the program since 2007. She earned a Bachelor and Master’s degrees from Southern Nazarene University and a Doctorate of Education in Health Promotion from Oklahoma State University. Prior to her time with OMES, Susan worked in higher education and taught at Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Central Oklahoma and Emporia State University. Susan's hobbies include singing in her church and community choirs, traveling and spending time with her daughter and grand dog, Georgi.