Spending time outdoors during pleasant, sunny weather is a pastime enjoyed by many. New research finds that it also may be vital to senior health.
The vitamins and health benefits provided by the sun are important for everyone to receive, especially the senior population.
And while medical professionals know that sun exposure is crucial for elders, specific recommendations for just how much are hard to pin down.
Skin types, time of day and geographic location all play a role in determining an optimum amount for each individual. Consult with your physician to find out what would work best for your body.
The Vitamin D Council recommends that on days that you do not get enough full body sun exposure that you take a supplement to help keep your levels high.
You can also give your body a boost by eating Vitamin-D rich foods, like fatty fish, beef liver, egg yolks and fortified cereals. The council, however, urges people not to depend on food alone for their vitamin D intake.
The British Journal of Ophthalmology recently found that elders may have both a higher need for natural light and a harder time getting it compared to younger people.
This can lead to the lack of blue light from the sun, which usually helps the brain produce melatonin to regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycles.
This eye issue can lead to insomnia and other medical problems that can be major factors in conditions like depression and heart disease.
Don’t Overdo It
Spending too much time outdoors without protection from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light can be damaging to the eyes and skin.
Seniors are also susceptible to overheating or dehydration in warm conditions, so use your judgment when you’re trying to take advantage of the sunlight.
Avoid extremely hot and humid days that can drain your energy. On days you do go outside, drink plenty of water and mix in a few breaks inside instead of spending hours working in the garden without breaks for rest or hydration.