The latest series on the blog meanders through simple, every day techniques that improve your heart health. All of these practices we will focus on can impact your heart with just 20 minutes or less of the detailed activity. Our first installment looks at our friend, sunshine.
The sun does more than just make us feel good. It breeds life. Not just in plants, but in us. There was a time when avoiding the sun seemed like a good idea. Skin cancer and premature aging were thought to occur with too much exposure to the center of the universe, and those are valid reasons to skip lounging on the beach for an entire day, but in the realm of 20-minute routines, getting sun is paramount to a heart healthy life.
The key part the sun bestows on us is vitamin D. You can of course get vitamin D from other places, but getting it directly from the sun is widely considered the most beneficial option.
In addition to giving us a proper dose of vitamin D, 20 minutes of natural sun light per day has been shown to improve our mood due to sunlight releasing serotonin and endorphins, and a happy heart is a healthy heart.
But the big news is that when the daily sun wash hits our skin a compound called nitric oxide is released into the blood vessels, which in turn begins the process of bringing our blood pressure down. And if you are new around here that means your risk of heart attack and stroke is reduced, and that is pretty much the name of the game.
All indications are that it’s better to get 20 minutes a day then two hours at one time once a week, think of binge drinking. Any doctor will tell you that it’s much better for you to have a glass of wine with dinner every night than to crush two bottles every Saturday night. Same deal with sunshine. And with the 20 minutes a day technique you will be more likely to avoid sunburn and keep any risk of skin cancer to a bare minimum.
If you work in an office make sure to get up and outside at lunch. Resist the impulse to eat lunch at your desk. Walk around the building a few times, or better yet take your lunch to a local park. Doing that combines sunshine and aerobic exercise so your heart will be doing backflips at your overachievement.
Find a sunny spot at home and start an herb garden. Spending times outdoors as you tend to the garden will not only reduce stress, but it will fill you up with enough vitamin D for the day.
The sun always rises, be there to meet it.