April ushers in the first month of Spring, and those first days of the year warm enough to beckon you to shed those winter layers and enjoy a few hours of sunlight. We all know that just a few minutes of sunlight on skin and access to some fresh air feels great, but there is actually a growing body of research that outlines the amazing benefits of enjoying a Spring afternoon outdoors.
For instance, we all feel the haze and sense of “cabin fever” that comes at the end of 3 months of cold weather. However, scientists have found that this feeling is more than just boredom from being cooped up. This feeling of being stuck, tired, and generally depressed is known as S.A.D., or Seasonal Affective Disorder, and has been found to be caused by a drop in the levels of Serotonin in the brain. This hormone has been linked to our brain’s ability to regulate mood, as well as increased calm and focus, but our bodies need to react to sunlight in order to produce it. Just a few minutes of sunlight is all our bodies need to increase Serotonin production, and this isn’t the only benefit. UVB radiation in sunlight also leads the body to begin the production and absorption of Vitamin D, needed for strong bones and bone health. Sunlight has also been shown to decrease growth and incidence of certain kinds of cancer, such as colon, pancreatic, ovarian, and prostate, as well as heal skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and acne. Feel free to soak in a few minutes a day, just remember to use an all-natural sunscreen or lotion with SPF protection, such as Andalou Naturals Vitamin C Beauty Balm, with SPF 30.
Along with the benefits of sunlight, a few minutes outdoors each day also gives us access to fresh air, which increases oxygen intake, causing more efficient brain function, clarity, and increased concentration. This increase in oxygen can also help the body to digest food more efficiently, strengthen our immune systems, and cleanse toxins from the lungs.
With so many amazing benefits of spending a few minutes outdoors each day, how will you get out to enjoy the fresh air and sunlight this spring? Here are three quick and easy ideas to get out and enjoy a few rays!
Relax, this is a picnic…
While you may not have time to spend an entire day outside, or drive out of town to enjoy nature, you can always take a few quick minutes to have lunch. Even if its just a few minutes in the middle of your workday, a 20-minute lunch break outdoors, in the sunshine, can be wonderfully beneficial to both your mood and overall health. Pair this great escape with a quick and healthy lunch, such as Georgetown’s Grab’N’Go humus and some fresh veggies to keep you operating at peak performance all afternoon.
Take some time to reconnect…
Warm spring days are the perfect time to spend some time reconnecting with your friends and family. Get outside and spend some quality time with the kids at the park or the zoo. Call up some friends and grab a pickup game of basketball or soccer, instead of the customary winter cup of coffee. And, don’t forget your significant other, take the time to get out and take a late afternoon stroll, soaking in the sun and each other’s company.
Make a run for it…
Crisp weather in the mornings and afternoons make them a great time to grab some fresh air while getting a little exercise outdoors. As if the benefits of sunlight and fresh air weren’t enough to help you feel great, the added endorphins from a quick morning run or afternoon trail ride can keep you in top shape mentally, physically, and emotionally. Stop in at Georgetown Market for a shot of Ginger with Lemon to keep you sharp on the way out of town, and grab some fresh fruit, a Cliff bar, and some water to keep you in top shape on the trails.