April 7th was World Health Day. You don’t have to be an Olympian or marathoner to celebrate all the positive strides you’ve taken toward your goals! We can celebrate our health, or wellness (as I prefer to call it), through just one simple way that’s sure to boost our happy hormones and have our bodies feeling great afterward!
Ditch the snooze button and seize the day by walking outside in the early morning sunlight for 20 minutes.
Yes, it really can be that simple. For such a light activity (no pun), exposure to early morning sunlight has extensive benefits for our mental and physical health.
Not only can morning sunlight help you with your sleep that night, but it’s as important as our diet and exercise. During this time of year, we can add a little “spring” to our steps by planning more walks with friends, sitting outside during lunch, and grabbing the beauty we sometimes take for granted. Celebrate being alive by getting in that sunshine. It’s the fast track to wellness.
If you need a little more scientific backing for the benefits of sunshine, doctors have researched and proven that sunlight helps produce more vitamin D that boosts our bone density and longevity. It is an essential nutrient for healthy brain function and protects the neurons in the brain and reduces inflammation. Vitamin D also helps your body maintain calcium. So, soaking up a few rays of sun in the morning may be just what you need to live longer, live better, and feel gratitude for tiny moments of joy to start your day.
My daily walks are a top priority for me. You won’t be disappointed if you give them a try!
When we engage only in intense exercise, our cortisol levels rise, and, you guessed it, our stress increases. This isn’t good for our sleep, our food choices, or even our motivation. Health doesn’t have to feel like a punishment, and we definitely don’t need to sweat buckets to see the results we want to achieve.
As for our precious mental health, walking outside and breathing fresh outdoor air improves brain function due to the increase in oxygen present outdoors! A 2015 Stanford University study found that those who walked outdoors had a decreased pattern of negative thinking and rumination that is associated with the onset, in some cases, of mental illnesses like depression.
There are so many reasons to “slow down” and take in the sunlight on our path to wellness.
“Slowing down” is about being present and giving our bodies a chance to increase their “feel good” hormones like serotonin (calming) and dopamine (reward center). Walking does not have to be done at a quick pace. An outdoor stroll at a comfortable pace promotes relaxation and calm. When you slowly and intentionally stroll, feeling your feet beneath you and the beauty around you, you are giving your body a gift of calm – instead of the frenzied breathless walk we once believed was the only way.
So, before you switch on your coffee maker or scroll through emails, grab a 5, 10, or 20-minute dose of morning sunlight, and make YOU your first daily to-do. What if we gave our early morning walks just as much focus as we give “diet” and “exercise” as key components to our health and wellness? Could this be the key ingredient to help us look and feel our best?
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