My wife loves the beach. She loves the atmosphere, the activity and she finds it to be a relaxing place to bring her beach chair, a book and spend the afternoon. She has Mediterranean heritage so she doesn’t typically burn easily, however it doesn’t take much for her to tan. She is a perfect example for the power of the sun. She stays mostly in the shade and is diligent with the application sun screen. Even so, she will turn dark bronze as the days of summer fly by.

We’ve all been educated with regard to the damaging effects of the sun. Like most things in our lives, too much of even a good thing turns into a bad thing! The hard thing about exposure to the sun, is to keep in mind that the harm is caused over the long haul. It is a culmination of exposure to UV light and the number of sunburns a person experiences throughout his or her lifetime which increases the risk for skin damage, premature skin aging (you can see that in some older pro golfers!) and skin cancer. If you are out on a summers day and come in with red skin which subsequently blisters and/or peels, experience cramps, fever, chills or a headache you have ignored common wisdom and have at best, burned your skin; at worst, contracted heat stroke. Silly you! Be warned; one American dies every hour from skin cancer!

That said, it’s not all bad! The sun is extremely important to our bodies beyond simply being a source of light in our daily lives!

Exposure to sunlight triggers the release of serotonin which is the body’s way of controlling mood and relieving stress. Light therapy to treat seasonal affective disorder is being developed as a result of this knowledge. It is commonly known that sunlight also triggers the body to produce vitamin D. Adequate levels of vitamin D have been linked to heart health, as well as helping the body absorb calcium which is important for strong healthy bones and, vitamin D has been shown to play a rol in the development of muscle health.

Vitamin D has also been linked to aiding the fight of certain diseases. MS seems to be more prevalent in ‘less sunny’ climates and correcting a deficiency in vitamin D has been shown to slow the progression of MS. Studies in pancreatic and breast cancer have also begun to draw lines between regulated unprotected exposure to sunlight, the production of vitamin D and risk factors in each of the cancers. Sunlight, it seems, has beneficial effects on blood pressure, digestion, and reduces the potential for allergies. The contrast of light during the day and darkness at night helps maintain a healthy sleep cycle and thus a more vibrant and active ‘daytime.’

The negative effects of unprotected overexposure to sunlight are very real. However avoiding the sun entirely may actually be worse for us. The sun, how it works and its contribution to life is not accidental, so we need to be wise in finding a balance in how we expose ourselves during the months where we are outside the most. I wonder whether my wife’s approach to summer ‘sunning’ might be the best…get as much sun as you can regularly, while avoiding getting a sunburn.

Be smart this summer. Limit your unprotected sun time; but get some! If you are going to be in sun for an extended period of time, use an SPF sunscreen of 40+ regularly throughout the day. Have a source of shade nearby. If you’re on the beach, that might be a nearby grove of trees. At home that might be a patio cover. What’s that? No patio cover? That is where Home Porch & Patio Kits comes in. Patio covers, also known as deck awnings are a great way to get some of the benefits of shade that a great many back yards are missing. You can create backyard shade and cool any deck, patio, terrace or balcony on demand with a permanent aluminum patio cover or retractable deck awning with manual or motorized operation. Our line of insulated roof patio covers prevent heat transfer to the underside of the roof cover and are a great substitute for nature’s tree, in an unlimited number of sizes.

Have a safe and sunny summer!