The clocks have changed, Spring has officially started, buds are starting to appear on trees, and the sun is starting to shine. When you go outside the air seems noticeably fresher. When the sun is shining you can really feel that winter is over.
It is time to shake off those Winter Blues and get outside and go for a walk!
We spend up 90% of the day indoors under artificial light and it is not uncommon for us to develop headaches, loss of concentration and other problems. Some people can be severely affected whereas for others it adds to their overall accumulation of physical stress.
We don’t usually consider light as part of our health but it is as much part of our environment as air and water, as our bodies react to different qualities of light and our internal chemical rhythms are partly co-ordinated by light too.
Getting outside in the fresh air and natural sunlight increases your vitamin D levels.
It is the most natural and the best way to get vitamin D. You can also get Vitamin D from your diet from oily fish such as salmon or mackerel and from eggs. There is also the option of Vitamin supplements. Experts advise a combination of diet and natural exposure to sunshine in small doses a little and often. Enjoying the sun safely, while taking care not to burn can help can help you experience the benefits of vitamin D without raising the risk of skin cancer.
Recent studies have suggested that up to 50% of adults and children worldwide are Vitamin D deficient.
Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium and phosphorous which are important for maintaining strong bones and teeth. Without it bones become weak and brittle which can lead to osteoporosis and osteomalacia (soft bones) in adults and rickets in young children.
A study published in February 2013 has suggested that having an increasing body mass index (BMI) corresponds with decreasing vitamin D level. The authors of the study concluded that vitamin D may become trapped inside fat cells so there is less to circulate in the blood system.
Symptoms of lack of vitamin D are generally fatigue muscle and joint pain.
If you are experiencing these symptoms get outside in the sunshine if you notice your symptoms settle after being in the sun then it likely that your vitamin D levels are low and my advice would be to see your GP and have your vitamin D levels checked before you develop any serious long term conditions such as osteoporosis which are harder to manage once established.
Many of us can identify working long hours sat in an office not taking breaks because “there is no time to” is not the answer and is counterproductive. Taking a 10-20 minute break to walk outside in natural sunlight or even natural light can benefit you in more ways than you think. It can help to energise you, help to lighten your mood and help you concentrate better as well as improving your general circulation and, relieving joint stiffness thus protect your joints.
Getting out in the sunshine is more challenging in the UK especially in the winter time but exposure to natural light even on a cloudy day is beneficial to the body. So when the sun starts to come out more in spring we should take advantage rather than waiting for the summer.
If you can’t take a break every day due to a busy schedule why not put it in your diary as you would any important meeting 2-3 times per week. At weekends when the sun is shining go out for a walk, or do some activities outside such as gardening.
Paying attention to your joints and bones now will pay dividends later with some small adjustments of getting outside more, eating foods rich in vitamin D and or taking Vitamin D supplements if needed and maintaining a healthy weight, will really make a difference. When you are older and when you retire you will be fit enough to enjoy it and not crippled with joint problems.
So what are you waiting for! Get outside and get some sunshine!
Your body will thank you for it!