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Sun Exposure: How to Find a Healthy Balance of Sun and Shade

Two in every three Australians will have skin cancer by the time they're 70. Sun exposure is the leading cause of these cancers.

The right amount of sunlight can provide a host of health benefits, though. You'll have stronger bones, better skin, and be happier overall. 

Truthfully, too much or too little sun exposure can be detrimental to your health. That's why it's crucial to learn how to strike a healthy balance between the two. Keep reading to learn how you can safely soak up your Vitamin D. 

The Benefits of Sun Exposure for Healthy Living

The sun is not an evil entity that we need to avoid at all costs. It's the lifeblood of our planet and a necessity for human, plant, and animal life. Let's take a peek at the benefits of spending time in the sunshine.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D — sometimes called the "sunshine vitamin" — is a necessary component of your health. It can fight off disease and plays a vital role in regulating your mood. 

When natural sunlight hits your skin, it tells your body to start producing this vital vitamin. Even 10 to 15 minutes of sunshine per day can trigger Vitamin D production. 


Serotonin

Exposure to sunlight can increase your body's release of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin — also known as the "happy brain chemical" — can lift your spirits and put you in a better mood. It's a vital chemical in a range of psychological processes like mood, behavior, sleep, and memory. 

An imbalance of serotonin may cause mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. 

Better Health

Several studies have shown that people who spend more time in the sun than indoors were healthier overall. 

Sun exposure may help protect against blood pressure and cardiovascular disease

Psoriasis, eczema, and even acne can be treated with the right amount of sunlight. Too much, though, and you'll risk worsening these conditions. 

Reduced Risk of Cancer and Other Diseases

There's a growing body of evidence suggesting that the right amount of sunlight can prevent cancer. Certain types of cancers seem to be less prevalent in people living in southern latitudes, where sunlight exposure is high. This may be because exposure to UV boosts the production of vitamin D. 

People living in areas with fewer hours of daylight are more prone to some cancers. These include colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. 

Sunlight can also provide protection against other diseases, even COVID-19. Studies show that  while SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus can live on metals, plastics, and cardboard for a few days the virus is not able to live outside in the sunlight

The Dangers of Sun Exposure

Too much sun doesn't come without its risks, though. Let's take a look at what can happen if you spend too much time in the sunshine.

Repeat Burns Raise Your Risk of Cancer

Sunburns play a definite role in melanoma development. When your skin absorbs the sun's UV rays, the genetic material in your skin cells gets damaged. This is what causes sunburn. 

Even repeat exposure without a sunburn can increase your chances of developing skin cancer.  

Too Much Sun Can Harm Your Children

Your child's skin is very vulnerable to sun damage. Even one blistering sunburn during childhood can double the chance of developing melanoma later in life. Too much sun can also cause eye damage and immune system suppression. 

Sun Exposure Harms Your Eyes

It's not only our skin that's susceptible to sunburns. UVB radiation can cause burns to our eyes. The cornea will burn and become inflamed. Even the inner surface of your eyelids can experience sun damage. 

Eyes that experience longterm exposure to UV radiation are more prone to cataracts and retina damage. You may also get muscular degeneration, which causes blindness.  

Ocular melanoma is another risk that comes with exposure to UV light. 

Minimising Risks and Maximising Benefits

Australia's 22 million people are 13 times more likely to develop skin cancer than the global average. That's why it's so important that we practice safe and healthy sun exposure. Here are some tips for minimising the risks and maximising the benefits of sunshine. 

Finding the Balance With Your Children

You cannot "build up" your child's tolerance to the sun. Infants, especially, are vulnerable to sun damage. It's best to shield your babies in the first six months of life than slather than with sunscreen. 

Don't let a cloudy day lull you into a false sense of security. It's the UV rays, not the temperature, that causes damage. Your children can still get a sunburn on a chilly and cloud-covered day. 

Keep them out of the sun during its peak hours - between 10 am and 3 pm. Make sure they're wearing long-sleeved clothing and keep them in the shade as much as possible. 

Use Shade

The shade is an indispensable defense against the sun. Every homeowner should have shade to protect themselves and their families. Do your research to ensure you're investing in the best umbrella for your needs

We recommend steering clear of direct sunlight during the peak hours of the day. You can still spend time outdoors during these hours but stay under an umbrella or in a shady spot. 

An umbrella ensures you have a safe place to hide from the sun while enjoying time outside. Plus, there's no better way to enjoy a resort-like relaxation than with a backyard-beautifying home umbrella

Use Enough of the Right Sunscreen

It's not enough to slather on a teaspoon of sunscreen over your entire body. You need to ensure you're using the right amount to protect yourself.

young girl with sunscreen on her back

When companies test sunscreens, they apply 2 milligrams per square centimeter of skin. This is roughly 35 milliliters for the average adult-sized body. If you're using less than that, your sunscreen won't be as effective. 

Search for an SPF 50+ sunscreen to reap the greatest benefit. If you are going swimming outside, you need one that states "water-resistant" on the label. 

As previously mentioned, avoid using sunscreen on babies younger than six months old. 

Cover Up

Wherever possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect yourself from UV rays. Look for clothes made with tightly-woven fabric for the best protection.

A wide-brimmed hat can shade more than your face. It'll protect your shoulders, ears, and the back of your neck. A canvas hat will provide much more protection than one made of straw. 

Sunglasses are an indispensable tool to protect against sun damage. They'll not only protect your eyes but the tender skin around them, too. Look for ones that block UVA and UVB rays for the most protection. 

Protect Yourself and Enjoy the Sunshine

No one wants to spend a beautiful day indoors, and you shouldn't have to. There's no reason to fear sun exposure so long as you're safe. The best way to ensure sun safety at home is by investing in a high-quality umbrella.

An umbrella allows you to enjoy time outdoor living and be sun smart at the same time. Speak with us today to find the perfect balance of sun and shade for your home. 

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