Monday, January 5, 2009

Some Sunlight a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

In my never ending quest for health and fitness, I tend to overlook the more obvious, simple ways to achieve wellness. So it came to me as a shock when one of the doctors I visited one weekend suddenly posed this very practical suggestion - "Have you ever considered soaking up sunlight?" Hopefully, this fit factorY blog article can "shed some light"on the topic (pun intended).

Now why didn't I think of that? I can think of 2 reasons. One - I am used to living in a complicated world where nothing is ever quite simple and two - because of the bad rep the sun has gained from all those dermatologists warning about skin cancer.

Why get sunlight anyway? Sunlight is one of the best places to get your daily dose of Vitamin D. You need Vitamin D for Calcium. You need calcium for your bones and teeth. A lack in Vitamin D also leads to other illnesses. Studies also say that sunlight also helps in the fight against breast cancer. And because the sun gives you some happy hormones, it can also treat seasonal depression, and can be a good pick-me-up :)

Take note, however, that sunlight alone cannot give you enough Vitamin D. You need to take some supplements as well.

How much sunlight do you need? My doctor says 15 minutes will suffice, and I've confirmed this duration from two other articles talking about sunlight therapy and the best time and duration to stay under the sun.

Speaking of which, when is the best time to soak up some sun? According to several articles, before noon and after 3 pm. My doctor also recommends the 6 to 7 am sun. The most practical tip to follow: Soak up the sun when your shadow is much taller than you are - this is when the sun is not at its harshest.

This is where the controversy lies, however. Doctors who espouse the sunlight therapy state that you should not have any sunscreen lotion on so you can get the most out of the sun. Dermatologists would probably shriek at the mere thought of going under the sun without the lotion.

In the end, it's up to you to choose what to believe. Personally, I think 10 minutes of sun a day during the less harsh times of the day isn't such a bad idea.

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