Sun, Glorious Sun!

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The sun is not the devil incarnate, and it would be wrong to believe it offers no benefits. In fact, new benefits are being discovered every day for the heart and even against certain cancers. Of course you have to use it without abusing it!

Benefits of the sun

We already know that your mood improves when it comes out. The sun affects the production of melatonin, which is involved in synchronizing the body’s rhythms. The sun has an immediate affect on both morale and health—a single exposure is like recharging your batteries.

We also know that it affects the skin. Its UV rays help strengthen bone structure by triggering the synthesis of vitamin D, without which bones would be unable to absorb calcium.

But be careful not to get burned! While exposing a few square centimetres of the body to the sun for a few minutes is enough to reap its benefits, we have long known with certainty that staying in the sun too long leads to skin cancer, skin aging, and brown spots!

Winter sun vs. summer sun

Do you need as much sun protection in winter as you do in summer? Many think you don’t because the sun does not hit the Earth at the same angle in winter, so the UV index is generally lower and it is obviously not as hot. They’re wrong! Research in fact indicates just the opposite. UV rays are even more dangerous in winter. Light reflects more during this season, especially off snow.

We know that UV ray intensity depends on a number of factors. We immediately think of the time of day, season, or weather conditions, but other lesser-known factors such as altitude and the surfaces around us come into play and have a major influence.

While the UV index on a beautiful sunny day in March may be reported as four, the real index to which your skin is actually exposed may in fact reach seven because of the reflection off snow. A UV index of four during this chilly month is as high as the UV index on a glorious day in July, which we seem to be disproportionately more concerned with!

Regardless of the season or what you feel, skin is constantly exposed to harmful UV rays, which contribute to premature skin aging and the development of brown spots. The solution? Use good quality sunscreen at all times—unless you’d rather hide under the covers!