We have been informed by the PM there is now a roadmap out of lockdown. As it happens this coincides with the imminent onset of Spring (20/3/21).
This is a perfect time to reappraise our health and well-being and make positive changes to improve both of them.
As the weather improves this is the perfect opportunity to get outside more. It is well known that during the winter months being cooped inside in the house with everything being dark and dismal outside, and sunset around 16.00 that the incidence of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and general depression is much higher.
There is ample evidence that simply being outside in the bright sunlight is good for your mood. The beauty of the newly budding flowers and the cherry blossoms being clothed in their gorgeous canopy is pleasing to the eye and soothing to the soul. We can take advantage of the more clement weather by going on country walks either alone or with our families, which makes them even more enjoyable.
Another advantage of being outside in the sunlight is toping up on much needed Vitamin D levels. A large proportion of the population suffers from low Vitamin D and the best way to increase this is from direct sunlight on the skin. It is important to note that sun through a window or clothing will not increase our body’s Vitamin D levels, it must be direct contact on the skin (for example on the forearms or lower legs). This results in the conversion of the inactive to an active form in the body. We do not need to sunbathe, in fact, excess sun exposure may be harmful in other ways (sunburn and skin cancer), the ideal level of exposure is about 15 minutes per day. It is also better to avoid the sun when it is at its hottest (15.00-16.30), as the risk of burning is greatest then. The best time of day to go outside is between the hours of 11.00-15.00.
Some people also find their skin is more radiant and often joint aches improve with exposure to sunlight.
Being outside also makes it much easier to get physical exercise. Whilst some of us may have been quite proactive in working out during lockdown, in our homes, the ability to get outside greatly increases our options. From a simple walk or jog to other sports such as football, tennis and many others.
Also, many delicious fruits come into season – personally, I am planning to go strawberry picking with my family and then eat the fruits of our labour!
Finally, whilst there are manifold benefits of the improved weather it is important to bear a few things in mind. Some people suffer from seasonal rhinitis (hay fever etc) and for them, it can be a very troublesome time. Common causes can include grass, pollen and pet dander (hair and feathers shed by many animals). If you do suffer from hay fever, then make sure to see your GP to get preventative treatments well in advance – this may include oral antihistamine tablets, nasal sprays, eye drops, decongestants and sometimes (in severe cases) a longer-term injection.
Whatever your situation there will undoubtedly be benefits that can be gained from enjoying the warmer, more pleasant weather.
If you have any questions then don’t hesitate to contact your health care professional.
Dr Suhail Hussain
MBChB, MRCGP, DRCOG, DFFP, PG Dip Diabetes
This article was written by Dr Suhail Hussain a private GP based in Chelsea Pharmacy Medical Clinic who also sees patients in the Greater London and Hertfordshire areas.
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