We’ve talked a few times over the last few months about how walking helps out with different aspects of your health. Walking does wonderful things for your cardiovascular health, as well as being good for your joints. But there’s another thing walking is great for – easing the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that usually starts in fall and goes through the winter. An estimated 4-6% of the U.S. population suffers from SAD, which is 12,920,00 to 19,380,000 people. Oddly, women suffer from SAD about three times as often as men do.
What is SAD?
SAD is a collection of symptoms such as appetite changes, weight gain, fatigue, irritability, etc., that come from a lack of sunlight. Strange that such a basic thing as being exposed to the sun helps us avoid depression, isn’t it? But SAD is very strongly correlated with sun exposure. People in Washington State are seven times as likely to get SAD as people in southern sunny Florida.
If you go to your doctor with SAD symptoms, your doctor will likely prescribe a light box for you to sit in front of for a certain number of minutes per day until the sun comes back in the spring. Sun rays (even artificial ones) boost your serotonin, which staves off depression and is used to make melatonin—the chemical that makes us feel sleepy.
Other Benefits of Sunshine
The sun has other benefits to us as well. Just 15 minutes of exposure on your hands, arms, and face a few times per week can boost your Vitamin D significantly, giving you stronger bones. The sun helps heal skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, acne, and even jaundice. There are even noticeable correlations between higher occurrences of certain types of cancer in geographical areas with less sunshine.
So, we get depression-fighting, mood-elevating serotonin and sleep-enhancing melatonin from the sun. That sounds pretty good. We get inflammation-reducing, bone-strengthening Vitamin D from the sun. We help reduce our chances of certain types of cancer, and we help heal our skin. All with reasonable amounts of exposure to that big ball of fire in the sky.
The Simplest Thing in the World
Back to our opening thought, aren’t all these sun benefits great reasons to make sure you walk every day? Walking is good for your cardio health and your joints, and the exposure to the sun—even on a cloudy day—is good for a whole slew of other things.
Dig out your favorite pair of Z-CoiLs and get to walking. Take the dog out, run some energy off those kids, and do your own body a world of good while you’re at it. Don’t let an injury slow you down. Your Z-CoiLs will protect your body, while you reap the long list of benefits of a simple walk.