Yesterday, I put this laptop down and ran outside into the sunshine. Suddenly, I couldn’t stand being inside. I needed to be in the glorious weather with my face upward, feeling the sun and gentle fall breeze. Today I know that the wonderful dose of sunlight more than fed my spirit—it was good for my heart.
I have been surprised to learn that recent medical discoveries have identified important roles the sun plays in heart health. One role involves Vitamin D. Exposure to sunlight is essential for the body to form Vitamin D. A very low blood level of this important vitamin causes cholesterol deposition that hardens arteries. It also raises blood pressure, which substantially increases risk for heart attack.
Another discovery found that exposure to sunlight increases a helpful blood pressure lowering process. It moves nitric oxide from the skin into circulating blood, decreasing blood vessel tone, blood pressure, and strain on the heart and blood vessels.
I am glad daily “doses” of sunshine are good for my heart. Every day, I walk up and down the hills in my neighborhood, exercising my body and enjoying the sunshine. For my entire life, I have not used sunscreen. The only times I think about applying it are when I plan to go to the beach or out into full sun for the day. I used to feel somewhat guilty about not applying this UV protection each day. But now I am glad I allow sunshine to benefit my heart. It’s wonderful that the sun is good for us as well as our Earth. What do you know about sunshine and heart health?