Rise And Shine (Literally): Soaking Up Morning Rays Could Help Keep Off Weight [Study]
Next time you reach to hit the snooze button a fourth time, think again. The sunshine waiting for you out the window might be more valuable than you think. A recent study from Northwestern Medicine revealed that individuals who soaked up 20-30 minutes of sunshine earlier in the morning had lower body-mass indexes (BMI) than those that were exposed to light later in the day.
The study looked at 28 males and 26 females; keeping record of the participants’ caloric intake, daily activity, sleep patterns and most importantly their light exposure. Phyllis C. Zee, senior author of the study, reported that when individuals do not get enough bright morning light, your internal body clock can get off track; leading to changes in metabolism and possible weight gain.
But what makes 8AM sunshine so much better than 2PM sunshine? It all comes down to quality and quantity. Most work, school, and social environments are poorly lit, typically ranging from 200-500 lux. The ideal lighting situation is at least 500 lux, but that’s a bare minimum. Comparatively, outdoor light provides ~ 10,000 lux on a clear day, with direct sunshine packing up to 100,000 lux. Even overcast days significantly beats indoor lighting, with up to 1,000 lux seeping through the clouds.
“I saw that what seemed to be most associated with body mass index was not just how much light you receive but when you get it and for how long,” — Giovanni Santostasi, Ph. D., Associate Scientist, Neuroscience at University of Wisconsin-Madison
And don’t forget about the sun’s ability to stimulate vitamin D production — a nutrient that’s critical for bone, skin, and immune health.
No Sun? No Problem — The Bottom Line
Unfortunately, we don’t have anywhere on our planet where there’s perfect sunlight 365 days a year. But cracking open a window, letting some light in, and keeping the blinds open might not be a bad idea.
Bright light therapy and light boxes have also become very popular ways to bring a “sunshine effect” indoors while also battling SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Light boxes mimic outdoor light, come in a variety of sizes, and are typically used for 30-45 minute intervals during the day. And they are pretty affordable, like this one: Sphere Lightphoria — Amazon, $69.
Better yet, go outside. It’s free.
is an AFAA-CGF, Beachbody INSANITY Coach, former chunky gal
, 110% pure fitness junkie and an SEC-lovin' sorority girl at the University of Missouri.
When she isn't spending her extra time as a campus tour guide (Go Tigers!), she's probably scrounging around the aisles of Barnes & Noble or doing some impulse online shopping.
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