Being shut up in a law firm all day isn’t just stressful and tough, but not getting some time outside in the sun can actually be harmful—studies have shown that sitting in an office all day can be bad for your overall health.
Luckily, the weather is getting warmer, and even on super-busy days, you can still find some time to head outside and enjoy the summer air. So find an outdoor cafe with free wifi, take a walk if you can, or eat your lunch on a sun-drenched bench in the park. Here are the best reasons to get outside and get some sun. And of course, don’t forget your sunscreen!
Vitamin D is good for your bones and overall health
Warm sunlight is one of the best ways to absorb vitamin D, which has a plethora of health benefits (and while it can be helpful to take vitamin D supplements during the colder, grayer months, the best way to absorb it is through moderate sunlight). Obviously, too much sun exposure without good SPF protection could put you at risk for skin cancer, but if you’re careful and take in the sun in healthy moderation, some studies have shown that vitamin D can lower the risk of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer and help protect you from non-Hodgkins lymphoma. It contributes to the strength and health of bones by helping your body absorb phosphorous and calcium from the food you eat.
It’s possible that vitamin D can also keep you at a healthy weight, as vitamin D deficiency has been linked to weight gain. Vitamin D supports your immune system, nervous system, brain function, and cardiovascular health, and helps to regulate insulin levels. In short, this one vitamin does a lot for your health in too many areas not to make getting enough of it a priority.
Serotonin (and other chemical) levels are super important
Exposure to sunlight triggers the release of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin doesn’t just put you in a better mood by, it can actually be crucial for your sleep cycle as well, thanks to its counterpart, melatonin, which is triggered by darkness. If you spend time in the sun when you can during the day, you’ll be on a better track to produce melatonin at night (because your body will recognize the shift from daytime to nighttime), leading to better, more restful sleep. Getting enough sleep will help you in every area of life, from focus to energy levels to overall mood. (Plus, maybe it’ll help you break that coffee habit you’ve been trying to kick for ages now.)
The moment a ray of sun hits your skin, your body releases another helpful chemical—nitric oxide—into your blood vessels. Nitric oxide helps maintain healthy blood pressure, which lawyers who work in high-stress situations can certainly understand the need for.
Seasonal affective disorder is a real problem
Seasonal affective disorder, known as SAD, is a type of depression related to the seasons—it is more commonly associated with the darker, colder months, though a smaller number of sufferers are affected in the warmer months. We’ve all heard of the “winter blues” and the symptoms we associate with being down in the dumps when it’s dark and cold outside—lethargy, changes in appetite, difficulty concentrating, oversleeping. Light therapy can be helpful for most people when there’s no natural sunlight to be had, and those with more severe symptoms can also benefit from antidepressants. So don’t fail to take full advantage of the sun in the spring and summer.
One of the best things about sunlight is its tendency to make you feel good, as getting outside and into nature generally does. Next time you’re getting cranky or feeling antsy while you’re stuck in the office, head outside for a blast of sunlight to experience a quick boost in mood.