A Little Bit Of Sunshine Does You Good

We have been lead to believe that we must keep out of the sun for fear of skin damage. The message to “Slip, Slop and Slap” – which is slip on a T-shirt, slop on sun cream and slap on a hat has been used by many health promotion campaigns in more hotter regions like the USA and Australia, but also has been used on the BBC here in the UK during summer time.

Sunbathing is Good For You
Image: Ed Yourdon CC BY-SA 2.0

Old peoples skin is more delicate and prone to damage and if they are inside a lot of the time then go out into the sun unprotected for a few hours then this can cause them to get sunburned.  Risks of too much sunburn, and being burnt too often, may increase the risk of melanoma – the most dangerous type of skin cancer.

However balanced against those risks – the sun’s radiation is also our top all-natural source of Vitamin D.  Vitamin D levels have decreased in the population as a whole, as even if you do sunbathe, sunscreen blocks the UV rays from entering the skin which therefore prevents it’s natural vitamin production.

Doctors do recommend that in the UK when the UV index is higher than a 3 that you can spend ten or fifteen minutes out in the sun without sun protection.  This sunlight exposure helps to boost your natural Vitamin D levels which in turn helps to keep bones strong, which is especially important for the elderly.

Your levels of sensitivity to the sun must be taken into account.  If you have fair or ginger hair then you are more likely to have photosensitive skin that burns more easily.  Cancer Research UK have produced a guide on UV levels and skin types so you can adjust your time out in the sun and still stay safe. Here is the guide.

Also in winter times some people suffer from SAD “Seasonal Affective Disorder” which makes them feel low or depressed.  One of the most prescribed remedies for this is exposure to UV light.  So in winter I would suggest wrapping up well and going out for a walk in the winter to get some extra sunshine.  Here’s a video on it presented by Dr. Michael Mckee.

Another benefit which has been raised in research covered in the Independent recently was that sunbathing helps to lower blood pressure.  With a third of all adults in the UK suffering high blood pressure, a risk marker for heart disease and strokes, anything that is free and easy to do must surely be a benefit.

They found that exposure to UVA light for 20 minutes dilates the blood vessels and significantly lowers blood pressure.

It is already well-known that blood pressure tends to be lower in summer than in winter, and there is also evidence to suggest that rates of high blood pressure increase in countries further away from the equator. Source: the independent

Grandma sitting in the sun     Image:Flickr-wrote CC BY 2.0

With all these benefits to health do you get enough sunshine?  In summary twice a week for between 15 minutes and 30 minutes without sun cream on should have more positive effects on health than negative ones.  Why not sit in the garden to top up your levels?
Keen gardeners know all about the benefits of being outside, but what happens when you get less mobile and need a stairlift for the garden?  You can still access your garden with a stair lift so give me a call on 0800 007 5050 and I can get you a quote for a lift suitable for straight or curved runs of steps outside.