Athletes exposure to sunlight

Athletes Need to Get Sunlight Everyday — Here’s Why

Whether you train indoors or outdoors, expose yourself to healthy sunlight every day and thank us later.

Many athletes, such as football players, golfers, swimmers, and cyclists, naturally find themselves training or competing in the heat of the sun. It isn’t always pleasant, especially in tropical countries like the Philippines. But exposure to natural sunlight can actually provide athletes with many health benefits that can improve athletic performance in the long run, thanks to all the vitamin D.

The problem, however, is that studies have shown that there is a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency around the world, which means that many people are unable to benefit from the sun.

This is why it doesn’t matter if you train indoors or outdoors, every athlete should find themselves at least a little bit of time every day to absorb natural sunlight. Here are five major reasons why.

1. It can strengthen your bones

One of the main benefits of vitamin D is that it promotes the body’s absorption of calcium and phosphorus, which are two important minerals that promote strong bones. Thus, basking in natural sunlight can help prevent your bones from becoming brittle, which can ultimately help athletes prevent or recover from bone injuries.

2. It can improve your muscle function

Spending time under the sun isn’t just great for getting a good-looking tan, but it also can improve an athlete’s body’s overall function, as vitamin D has been linked to improved muscle power. Research has shown that exposure to the sun can boost muscle strength and endurance because sunlight can increase the nitric oxide in the body, thus promoting blood circulation to the muscles. With better circulation, athletes can also benefit from quicker muscle recovery, too.

3. It can improve your recovery

Recovery and sleep play a huge role in an athlete’s training regimen, and exposure to natural sunlight can help improve this side of your game. Exposing yourself to the sun, especially first thing in the morning, sends signals to your brain that will maintain your body’s “clock”, also known as your circadian rhythm.

Studies show that getting natural sunlight in the morning can increase natural melatonin in your body, which will not only help you fall asleep earlier at night, but can also help you experience deeper and more restful sleep, which is essential to an athlete’s overall recovery.

4. It can boost your mood

Every athlete is prone to feeling stress or demotivation, which is par for the course. However, you can help boost your mood by getting natural sunlight. As mentioned earlier, sunlight can help increase melatonin, which helps lower stress. On top of this, studies have shown that sufficient vitamin D can help regulate one’s mood, as it promotes the production of happy hormones in your brain such as serotonin.

5. It boosts your immune system

Like most essential vitamins, vitamin D from the sun can help athletes improve their immune systems as it helps the body fight bacteria and viruses. Research has shown that people who are vitamin D-deficient have higher risks of infections to diseases and illnesses, which is another main reason why this micronutrient should not be overlooked.

How can I get the benefits of natural sunlight?

Although there are vitamin D supplements on the market, experts believe that there is no better way to supply this vitamin to your body than by exposure to natural sunlight.

While every athlete will require a different amount of sunlight to get sufficient vitamin D levels, a general rule of thumb that scientists recommend is to expose yourself for 10 to 30 minutes every day — just make sure you prevent your skin from burning, because too much exposure can be harmful to the skin. Experts recommend using sunscreen if you plan on staying out for a long period of time.

An easy way of applying this habit is by incorporating it into your training. You can walk, warm up, cool down, or stretch in the sun.

The bottom line is: With all the benefits athletes can get from natural sunlight exposure, vitamin D should not be taken for granted.

Banner image from Caique Araujo.

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