Sitting in the sun is always debatable when it comes to your health; and proper caution should always be exercised. Getting out into its glorious rays can be just as good for you as it is bad, so make sure you know what you are doing.
Most of us love to sit outside on a warm glorious day, soaking up the sun’s rays. It is both relaxing and somehow fulfilling to be able to bask in its light. Its ability to create a tan causes many of us to specifically seek it out, and dance on the edge between proper sun protection and tanning efficiency.
It is ultraviolet radiation that causes sunlight to both be a benefit and a danger to us humans. It is an essential component in the synthesis of vitamin D – an vital vitamin used to keep bones and teeth healthy. Although there are other sources of this vitamin, it is the act of exposing our skin to UV light that produces the majority that we use.
Exposing ourselves to sunlight also reduces seasonal affective disorder, a condition normally associated with feeling glum in winter - as a result of varying factors, including limited light exposure. There is also a little bit of research to suggest that sun exposure can reduce hypertension and help prevent cardiac disease.
This is not an excuse to go sit out in the sun all day with no protection though…
Although the UV radiation in sunlight benefits us, it also hurts us. UV radiation is a carcinogen, and over exposure contributes to 1.5 million diagnoses of skin cancer a year in the US alone. Constant exposure over a lifetime can also speed up the aging process and cause the skin to become very dry.
It is a dilemma that many people face as they seek to tan their skin, but tanning itself is a display of the body’s attempts to protect itself, and repair cellular damage caused by UV radiation. For this reason, not matter how urgently you feel you need to brown your skin, you should always wear some degree of protection, such as sunscreen. Sunscreen will limit the amount of UV able to get through to your skin, and depending on the factor, will still allow you to tan with a degree of safety – just don’t let yourself burn!