Why Do I Need to Spend Time Outside in Winter?

The colder temperatures and less-than-ideal outside environment have a lot of us spending our days in the warm comfort of our homes. While that is certainly a cozy place to curl up while we wait for summer to come back, it can actually be detrimental to your physical and mental health.

Over time, minimal exposure to sunlight can increase your risk of a vitamin D deficiency or a mental health condition called seasonal affective disorder. It is also important to move your body, no matter what season we are in!

Our AFC Urgent Care Fountain City team explains the role sunlight plays in our lives below, so keep reading to find out more.

How Are Sunlight and Vitamin D Related?

Our relationship with the sun is pretty cool. When our skin is exposed to the natural rays of the sun, our bodies kickstart the production of vitamin D. This vitamin is crucial to developing and maintaining strong and healthy bones! In addition, sun exposure helps keep our mental health in check.

We rely on the sun to help keep our circadian rhythms balanced. If we aren’t exposed to the sun on a regular basis, that balance may get shifted and our hormone levels can get out of alignment. For example, the hormone melatonin is produced in response to darkness in order to help us fall asleep at night. Reduced sun exposure can trigger an overproduction of melatonin and can cause symptoms of seasonal affective disorder to appear.

Easy Ways to Spend Time Outside

  • Take a nature walk.
  • Do some outdoor chores.
  • Bring your workout outside.
  • Volunteer at a park or garden.

Can I Tell if I Am Not Getting Enough Sun Exposure?

While you may not be able to tell right away, you are at risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency, which can cause brittle bones or a permanent loss of bone density. For the majority of people, exposing your skin to direct sunlight for 10 to 30 minutes a few times a week is enough to keep your vitamin D levels in balance.

If you are struggling with your mental health and find that you are more fatigued or irritable or have trouble finding joy in the things you normally like to do, visit with your care provider. Seasonal affective disorder and other forms of depression should always be treated seriously.

Physical Symptoms of a Vitamin D Deficiency

  • Constant fatigue
  • Bone pain or achiness
  • Hair loss
  • Depression
  • More frequent illnesses

Our AFC Urgent Care Fountain City team is always here for you. Come see us today.