Why Sun Exposure is Vital to your Health and Performance
Longer days and shorter nights signal the beginning of summer. This time of year people are either spending an excessive amount of time outside trying to get a tan or avoiding the heat completely. Both of these attitudes are unhealthy but how much is enough when it comes to sun exposure?
Our life is influenced by our orbit around the sun making sunshine important to our health and physical potential. Sunlight can help regulate our sleep cycle and promote deeper recovery. Another important benefit that comes with sensible sun exposure is Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps strengthen your bones, which can prevent bone fractures and chronic muscle pain.
But don’t just take our word for it.
Pro sports teams are now wise to the athletic benefits of Vitamin D too. A 2015 study of the Pittsburgh Steelers published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that Vitamin D levels were significantly lower in players with at least one bone fracture. Players who were released during the preseason due to injury or poor performance also had significantly lower Vitamin D levels than those who made the team.
Another study conducted on the Chicago Blackhawks proved that consistent sun exposure strengthened fast-twitch muscle fibers, stopped inflammation, and reduced the chances of contracting a respiratory infection.
Enette Larson-Meyer, an associate professor at the University of Wyoming who studied the Blackhawks notes, “We know lack of vitamin D can compromise athletic performance. The week before a fit event, you may want to get some sun.”
But how much sun is required for optimal athletic performance?
OPEX Coach, Sean McGovern explains it depends on the shade of your skin…
“Generally speaking, the paler you are, the less time you need to spend outside in the sun to get the suggested amount of Vitamin D. The darker you are, the more time you need to spend outside.”
Darker skin is a protective evolutionary adaptation response to excessive sunlight, while paler skin is an adaptation response to less light in the environment. This means two things, those with darker skin won’t burn as quickly in the sun, but require more time in the sun to produce optimum amounts of Vitamin D. Conversely, those with paler skin will burn more quickly in the sun, but don’t need as much time in the sun to get the optimal level of Vitamin D.