The temperatures are rising, the grass is greening up, the flowers are blooming — all thanks to the sun. What’s more, sunshine is essential to our health, which makes summer workouts extra beneficial. The sun is the most effective natural source of vitamin D, which has a bevy of health benefits:
- Stronger, healthier bones: Jesse, a MYX trainer and wellness expert, points out that by helping the body absorb calcium, vitamin D helps to prevent osteoporosis, which is more likely to affect women as they age.
- Hormone regulation: Research has shown vitamin D helps regulate natural hormone levels, including serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine, which have a direct correlation to our mood.
- Lower risk of diseases: People who get enough vitamin D have a lower risk of diabetes, hypertension, and certain types of cancers.
The sun’s benefits
MYX trainer Lauren estimates we need about 15 to 20 minutes per day of pure, unfiltered sun on our skin to synthesize vitamin D and get the benefits of sunlight. Beyond that, there’s a risk of burning or overexposure. She uses an app called dminder that indicates the best time to go out, tracks time spent in the sun, and estimates vitamin D intake.
“The ideal amount of sun is different for everyone, based on their age, location, and skin type,” says Lauren. “Lighter skin tones can absorb and synthesize more vitamin D, while darker skin tones are adapted to climates with higher UV and need more sun time to produce the same amount of vitamin D.”
Stay safe in the sun
Once you’ve gotten enough unfiltered sun exposure, it’s important to protect your skin from further exposure. Lauren recommends using EWG (Environmental Working Group) website to find a sunscreen made from all-natural ingredients with no toxins. She always uses an SPF of at least 50 on her face and at least 15 on the rest of her body. Sun-protective clothing is another good way to protect skin from extended exposure.
Lauren points out that what we eat also helps counteract the negative effects of sun exposure. Foods high in antioxidants — like berries, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, watermelon, and green tea — help to protect the skin from cellular damage and inflammation.
The key is to strike a balance between reaping the health benefits of sunlight while enjoying our summer workouts. “You can see burning, but you can’t see aging,” Lauren explains. “Know your body, pay attention to the small cues, and when you’ve gotten your daily dose of vitamin D, cover up and use nontoxic sunscreen.”