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Ready for the Sun!

Have the short, dark days of winter been getting you down? Everyone is ready for a break from all the winter weather! We just need a little sunshine!

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Have the short, dark days of winter been getting you down?  Everyone is ready for a break from all the winter weather!   We just need a little sunshine!  Over the years, exposure to the sun has gotten a bad rap.  People have spent the past several years putting on sunscreen every time they step out the door, covering up with long sleeves and big hats, and doing all they can to shield themselves from the damaging rays of the sun.  Too much sun poses the threat of prematurely aging the skin, causes wrinkles and dark spots, and even causes skin cancer.  Due to threat of these harmful effects, is it possible that we could be limiting our exposure to the sun a little too much?

We all know the risks of getting too much sun, but we might not know there are many health benefits as well.  Studies have determined that depression, lack of energy, unusual fatigue, and even some physical illnesses people experience in the winter months can be linked to the decreased hours of sunlight.  Exposure to the sun, in moderation, can be good for our health, both physically and mentally. 

Research seems to show a link between low levels of vitamin D in the blood and the symptoms of depression.  Research has not shown whether low vitamin D causes depression, but it is suggested that low levels may be a factor that contributes to a depressed mood.  The body actually creates its supply of vitamin D from the sun’s ultraviolet rays hitting the skin.  When the sun comes out after a long winter, the improvement in most people’s feelings is not just in their mind. 

Sunlight may help prevent cancer.  A connection has been made between vitamin D deficiency and cancer.  Research now indicates that being deficient in vitamin D increases the risk of many cancers, including breast and colon. 

Sunlight can also be a natural way to fight stress.  Stress seems unavoidable in everyday life.  You can fight it naturally by stepping outside on a sunny day.  Levels of serotonin—a neurotransmitter that regulates appetite, sleep, memory, and mood—have been shown to be lower in the winter than the summer.  Studies suggest that the brain produces more of the mood-lifting chemical on sunny days than on darker days.  Getting a little sunlight on your skin might be just what is needed to help de-stress yourself.

Sunlight has proven to have many other benefits.  It is helpful for individuals suffering from psoriasis.  In one study, sun therapy was shown to promote significant improvement in the patients’ condition.  Clinical research has also shown that exposure to full-spectrum sunlight during the day coupled with total darkness at night can help improve some aspects of Alzheimer’s disease—reducing agitation experienced by some patients and decreasing night time wakefulness.

How much sun is enough to benefit one’s mental state as well as their health?  The key is moderation.  Fifteen minutes three times a week is recommended by most professionals as enough sunlight for your body to produce sufficient vitamin D to benefit your body.  You must take into account your skin type—fair-skinned people may have to reduce the duration of the exposure.  Don’t throw away the sun-screen!  Too much of a good thing can still be very harmful.  Always use common sense and good judgment when it comes to your day of “fun in the sun”.  

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

4-H Information

There are several 4-H clubs for our Garland county youth who are 5 to 19 years old.  For more information on all the fun 4-H activities that are available for our youth, call Linda Bates at the Extension Office on 623-6841 or 922-4703 or email her at

Master Gardener Information

Master Gardener meetings are held on the 3rd Thursday of each month at the Elks Lodge.  They’re open to the public and guests are welcome. For more information call the Extension Office at 623-6841 or 922-4703 or email Allen Bates at

EHC Information

Are you interested in joining an existing Extension Homemakers Club? EHC is the largest volunteer organization in the state. For information on EHC contact Jessica Vincent on 623-684 or 922-4703 or email her at

By Linda Bates
County Extension Agent - 4-H
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Linda Bates
County Extension Agent - 4-H
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
236 Woodbine Hot Springs AR 71901
(501) 623-6841

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  • The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

    The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.