10 Benefits of Sunshine

Some lesser-known benefits of safely sitting in the sun.

I’m walking on sunshine, and don’t it feel good? Or so say the lyrics of peppy 1980s ditty by Katrina and the Waves. Turns out, awesome 80s pop music got it right. I live in sunny Southern California, but I spend much of my time in a writing cave populated by social media clicks and a chipped coffee mug I sometimes bang against the window pane at the outside world. When this happens, I just step outside to soak up the sun.

Why am I doing this? It turns out that that sunlight can have some great health benefits. So here’s ten lesser-known reasons to make sure you get some safe time in the sun.

Sunshine puts us in a better mood.
When you step outside and suddenly feel like smiling, odds are that the sun is smiling down on you. David Strohmetz is a psychologist at Monmouth University. As he told Psychology Today, “nice days put us in a good mood, which engenders helping and generosity. When we’re in a good mood, we want to maintain that mood.” This even makes us better tippers.

Sunshine helps you heal.
A 2007 study found that not getting enough direct sunlight could increase our chances of cancer by at least 70%. However, sitting in too much sun without protection can cause skin cancer. Happy mediums for all!

Sunshine influences the stock market for the better.
The stock market is three times as likely to go up if the city of the exchange is having a sunny day. No word on if traders have figured out a way to beam sunlight onto the floors of the New York Stock Exchange.

Sunshine helps you smoke less.
Psychology Today points out that on cloudy days, we “compensate artificially.” This means that those who smoke, drink, and do whatever else makes them feel “good,” really lay it on thick. Note to self: stop doing rain dances.

We eat less chocolate on sunny days.
Chocolate makes us happy, so we need less of it when the sun is shining. Because we’re already happy! But is this really a benefit? Only if you’re watching your weight.

If you are applying to college, you have a better chance of getting in with lesser grades on a sunny day.
Uri Simonsohn is the behavioral economist at the University of California at San Diego who conducted a study of the science of sun. As he told Psychology Today, “Applicants who are strong academically are more likely to be admitted on cloudy days, whereas candidates who are strong socially are more likely to be admitted on sunny ones. Cloudy days call to mind thoughts of staying inside to read or study.” No word on what snowy days say about academics.

Sunshine can influence your cholesterol.
Our bodies make Vitamin D from sunlight, which is necessary for a whole host of important health issues. Your body converts a type of cholesterol into Vitamin D.

Sunshine helps you sleep better.
If you get a lot of natural light during the day, your circadian rhythms will align. Natural light also increases melatonin which increases sleep. So good night, sweet sun.

Sunshine makes you play more.
In the sun, you feel better and want to get active. Consequently, you have more of an urge to frolic under the sun like wood nymphs in a Shakespearean comedy.

Sunshine can help clear up acne, eczema, psoriasis, athlete’s foot and more.
Some experts urge that getting moderate amounts of sun can help clear up skin disorders. And even still, sun may improve your digestion and metabolism.

*And as always, don’t overdo it, keep your sunblock handy, and talk to a medical professional before treating major ailments with sunshine.

Images: wanko,  johncohen, 33498942@N04, XLordashX, Cara Photography

Katherine Butler

Katherine Butler is the Beauty Editor of EcoSalon and currently resides in Los Angeles, California.