I am an early riser by choice. It’s just a habit I’ve formed over the years and I’ve actually never set an alarm clock in my life. My body just has a sleep cycle that’s developed over time. I was super excited to read and learn that many experts are now highly recommending early morning, outdoor exercise for important health benefits. My early morning workout time is peaceful and now linked to improved health, how exciting is that. Just look at my morning view, this alone can improve my mood and make me so grateful to be alive.
Many people are now being found to be Vitamin D deficient, myself included. I was pretty surprised when my doctor told me just how depleted my levels of Vitamin D were in lab testing. She explained to me at the time that Vitamin D is critical for correct hormone function and brain health. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to many types of cancers including breast cancer. I remember wondering if this deficiency had been a contributing factor of my mom’s Alzheimers disease.
When my doctor diagnosed this deficiency, I remember telling her that I really don’t spend a lot of time in the sun by choice. While she told me the benefits of exposure to natural light, she explained that it would be nearly impossible for me to get all the needed amounts of vitamin D just from exposure to sunlight. We talked about foods high in D (fatty fish, cheese, eggs) and supplementation plans. It took me several front loading doses of vitamin D3 to get my levels into acceptable level ranges. I have been on a maintenance dosage for two years now and continue to monitor levels through lab testing (blood tests).
When reading about Vitamin D, I came upon some interesting links between lack of natural sunlight exposure and wellness. I learned that exposure to sunlight during the day can actually help you sleep better, improve hormone function and increase endorphin production. Light sends a signal to your body and brain to wake up and also helps regulate your body’s circadian clock. It has been found that your circadian rhythm could impact your metabolism as well. This coupled with eating foods known to be rich with Vitamin D and proper supplementation can improve overall health.
It is said that one of the best times to be exposed to natural sunlight is between 6:00 – 8:00 AM. You only need about 20 to 30 minutes of morning sunlight to reap the benefits. Getting at least 30 minutes of sunlight each day boosts serotonin levels, which will help improve melatonin levels at night and could improve sleep cycles. I remember sharing this information with my dad as a means to help my mom with sundowning, a common occurrence in Alzheimer’s patients, caused by sleep disturbance. It was recommended that she be exposed to this early morning light as a means to reset her circadian clock. Recently, I read that it’s also linked to increased benefits during exercise through improved metabolism and vitamin D levels.
This week’s training tip is to move your early morning workout sessions outside, increasing exposure to natural light, for maximum health benefits. Even in the winter anyone can go for a short walk, perhaps not at 6:00 AM as it will be dark, but certainly before noon. Make this your new health habit for some important lasting benefits. Lace up those sneakers and go for a walk, or jog each morning. Your body will thank you! I’m heading out right now myself.
Are you already a believer in early morning exposure to natural light? Please share what you have learned on this topic in the section below. I look forward to learning more about this topic in my quest to improve my health.
My doctor put me on Vitamin D3, but after several front loading doses, my levels didn’t improve. We paired K2 and D3 and my levels finally tested in the correct range. There is some research that demonstrates a link between the body’s ability to absorb D3 when taken with K2. After years of taking them separate, I came across this product that has combined both into one pill.