Take advantage of the springtime sun

Rewon Shimray | Cartoonist

It’s no surprise the sun bring people joy after the long-standing clouds and chill of the winter months. With the end of Spring Break ushering the sight of warmer days now that the cold, winter months have left us, it’s time to utilize the great spring weather by getting outside and soaking up the sun.

Sunlight produces cues to the body to signal the release of serotonin, a hormone typically charged with the task of boosting one’s mood and focus. Darkness, however, typically will trigger melatonin, a hormone responsible for telling the body that it is time to rest.

Without balance in sunlight availability, the body’s natural hormone levels may be thrown out of equilibrium.

The Mayo Clinic explains that serotonin levels can drop without proper sunlight exposure. This can lead to a higher risk of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression spurred by the changing of seasons.

Chances of developing SAD are greater because of the shorter days and longer nights of winter than in the warmer months of spring and summer. It is for this reason that we should attempt to regulate any imbalance that might have occurred over the winter by taking a trip outside.

In fact, there are even health benefits to proper amounts of sun in coordination with the balance of hormones in the body.

Studies show that the sun sets off a proper chain of events within the body, producing healthy levels of Vitamin D, which can encourage bone health.

Vitamin D is important to keep at optimal levels, as too little can result in heart disease and dementia. Though the effects may not be felt immediately in young adults, later on, the damage can be lasting.

A study in Science of Total Environment affirms the need for 10 to 20 minutes of sunlight a day in the spring and summer.

With such a short time commitment of only 10 to 20 minutes per day, there are many fun things you can do to get all necessary health benefits.

Take up a new intramural sport through an organization, go for a hike in Cameron Park, take a short run on the Bear Trail, bike around campus or go for a kayak ride at the Baylor Marina. Whatever you prefer, there is no reason to feel like you should stay cooped inside away from the potential health benefits of the sun. With the cold finally behind us, it’s time we all finally enjoy the warm months to come.