The benefits of fresh air & sunshine

We all know it feels good to get outside, but why is that?

Getting outside can reduce our stress levels for a number of reasons. When we take deep breaths, as we often do in the fresh air, we get more oxygen in with every breath. This means more oxygen to the brain which leaves us feeling more awake and energised. The fresh air and sunshine can also increase our serotonin levels. Serotonin is one neurotransmitter that regulates mood, and for this reason it gets nicknames the happiness chemical.

When the sunlight hits our skin, it also starts the production of Vitamin D in our body. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient, which is particularly important in building strong bones. While there are some food sources, including salmon, sardines, egg yolks ad cod liver oil, the best source is the sun. Remember though that more sun is not always better. If you are in a particularly hot, sunny part of the world it is generally best to use sun protection!

We know Vitamin D also has some immune system benefits. To add to this, plants also emit substances called phytoncides which have antibacterial properties. So, the combination of plants and the sun may also benefit our immune function.

Sunlight also plays a role in regulating our circadian rhythm- aka our bodies’ internal clock. Our circadian rhythm tells us when to feel awake and when to feel tired/sleepy. It is also beneficial in allowing us to know approximately what times to be eating- aka we don’t want to be waking at 2am feeling hungry.

Getting exposure to natural light can help this natural body clock fall back in rhythm. If your outdoor time also involves exercise, that is an added bonus, as exercise is also beneficial in getting good sleep. Burning this extra energy in the day means you may feel more tired later in the day, aiding you in getting to sleep.

Ever found yourself feeling sluggish and down after too much time spent in front of a screen (whether that be computer, TV, or phone)? Part of this is due to the blue light produced by such screens. Getting outside, even for just 10 minutes of fresh air and sunshine, can help re energise you. So next time you are feeling sluggish, down or like you have no energy for exercise, consider getting out for even just a 10-minute walk!

References
https://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/06/health/06real.html
https://www.webmd.com/balance/ss/slideshow-health-benefits-nature

About the author

Cheyenne Holman

Cheyenne Holman

Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD)
Accredited Sports Dietitian
Certified Personal Trainer
Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Teacher