Can Getting Out in the Sun on Holiday Make You Happier, or Live Longer?
All too often, the media focuses on the damaging effects of the sun. We’re regularly told that over-exposure to UV light can cause malignant melanomas, liver spots, premature wrinkling and dry, parched skin.
Whilst all of this is correct, these reports tend to overlook the natural benefits of sunlight. As any sufferer of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) will testify, spending some time in the sun can boost your mood and alleviate depression.
The Benefits of Sunshine When on Holiday
When you’re on holiday, it’s really important to stay covered up and put on a high SPF sun cream. However, don’t feel afraid to step out into the sunlight on your holiday; there’s plenty of benefits in those UV rays, as long as you’re sensible when you’re out and about.
Small Amounts of Exposure – Can Sunlight Reduce the Chance of Getting Cancer?
Studies in the past have demonstrated that limited exposure to the sun can actually lower the likelihood of getting certain types of cancer. Professor Michael Holick, from the Boston University School of Medicine, claims that it’s all down to vitamin D.
He states: ‘We get about 90 to 95% of our vitamin D from the sun. It is essential for absorbing calcium, keeping our bones healthy, and for protecting against serious chronic diseases later in life such as osteoporosis, Type II diabetes, multiple sclerosis and many common cancers.’
Making the ‘Happy’ Hormone
Not only does sunlight help make people with SAD feel considerably better, but it also helps to boost levels of serotonin, which is your body’s natural ‘happy’ hormone. Exposure to moderate levels of sunlight can help boost moderate levels of depression; and is apparently especially effective when combined with exercise, such as walking or going for a jog; as these activities release endorphins, which also make you feel happy.
Regular Sunshine Holidays = Longer Life?
Some studies even suggest that regular holidays may help to lengthen your lifespan. According to Dr Oscar Franco of Warwick Medical School, sunbathing could actually help ward off heart disease. He and his team examined the links between vitamin D in the blood and metabolic syndrome, which often contributes to heart-related illness.
Dr Franco concludes: ‘Vitamin D deficiency is becoming a condition that is becoming a huge problem across the globe.’ He advises regular exposure to the sun; whilst still using sun cream for protection. He adds: ‘This research could possibly save millions of lives as long as people eat right, exercise as well as spending time in the sun.’
Further research from Denmark also backs this up, and researchers from Copenhagen University Hospital found that reduced vitamin D in the bloodstream could lead to an 81% increase in risk of death from heart disease.
And Other Benefits?
As if these weren’t reason enough to visit your travel agent ASAP, other benefits have been linked to enjoying fun in the sun on holiday. These include:
- Helps skin problems, such as psoriasis and eczema
- Eases symptoms of IBS and Crohn’s Disease
- Boosts immunity
- Helps you lose weight (raised levels of serotonin)
In short, the evidence suggests that as long as you’re sensible in the sun, you should enjoy the UV rays as much as possible; as they’re good for your body and your mind.