Sunshine: The benefits and safety of being in the sun

Primary Times explores the benefits of getting out in the summer sun and how you can stay sun safe

The Benefits
As we welcome the sunshine and warmer weather of the summer holidays, it’s a great time to spend more of your day outside with the whole family. From playing in a paddling pool in the back garden to going on a hiking adventure, there is plenty to do in the great outdoors during summer. But the benefits of getting out in the sun doesn’t just end at having fun. Your body and mind benefi t greatly from the summer season too. We have created a list of five ways the sun can benefit you and your family, that you might not have even noticed while you’re having fun in the sunshine.

Producing Vitamin D
It doesn’t take much sun exposure for the body to produce vitamin D. Just 10 to 15 minutes in the sun can increase the production of this vitamin. Vitamin D plays a very important role for our bodies, especially for growing children. It helps absorb calcium, which is essential for the development of healthy bones. The vitamin can also help bodies to absorb other essential minerals such as zinc and magnesium.

Helping the Immune System
Sunlight has been shown to increase the production of white blood cells in the body. This helps your body fi ght off infections to keep you healthy. Children in particular are exposed to all kinds of viruses and bacteria as their immune systems are still developing. Ensuring children are exposed to some sun can help to ensure their bodies are better able to handle any illnesses they may develop.

Getting a Better Nights Sleep
Getting a good nights sleep is essential for both your physical and mental health, and the sun can help with this. The sun’s rays can help to establish a healthy sleep and wake cycle, known as a circadian rhythm. When out in the sunshine, your body is given a signal to stop producing melatonin, a sleepinducing hormone. When it gets darker, the body will produce melatonin again. This means that the more sunlight you get, the more awake you become so that you can get the best nights sleep at the correct time.

Emotional Boost
Sunlight can help to boost a chemical in your brain known as serotonin. This chemical controls many emotional elements of your brain such as your focus, mood and calmness. This means that creating some fun activities to do in the summer sun is more likely to make everyone involved feel positive and happy than if you were to do these activities indoors.

Encourages Exercise
With the increase in online learning, children especiallyare on screens more than ever. Providing opportunities to switch off from these screens and go outdoors will encourage daily general exercise, which is essential to having a healthy lifestyle, and of course seeing the sun shining makes going outside and getting some exercise even more inviting.

Make sure to keep exposed skin protected with sunscreen. Choose a sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 15 and that also has UVA protection. Make sure to also keep this topped up throughout the day while outside, especially if you and your family go swimming.

While in the sun, it’s very common to get eyestrain that could lead to a headache. Wearing sunglasses can protect sensitive eyes from direct contact with the sun’s rays, keeping your eyes healthy and relaxed all day long.

Staying Hydrated
Make sure everyone in your family has access to water throughout the day. While having a fun fi lled day in the sun, your body will sweat, causing you body to lose water and become more dehydrated than usual. Regularly drinking water will stop the water levels in your body from dropping, keeping you healthy and energised all day long.

Time Management
The summer sun is usually at its strongest between 10am and 4pm. Make sure to take some breaks in a shaded area during these times so that you can regularly keep cool while enjoying the time outside.

Staying Safe
Though there are many benefits to getting outside and enjoying the sunshine, you still need to keep yourself safe from prolonged periods of time under the sun’s rays. This is why we have also comprised a list of easy ways you and your family can stay sun safe while still having fun outside.