During my career as a radiologist, I have spent almost 40 years staring at screens. When I first started in this field it was virtually the only field that spends time staring at fluorescent lights and eventually computer screens. Now with the advent of widespread technology, almost every medical field and every student at every level is staring at computer screens. The short- and long-term effects of this blue-light exposure and sedentary living are only just now being explored. In addition, as a radiologist in the hospital we were frequently exposed to ionizing radiation or electromagnetic fields (EMF) in particular. EMFs are also omnipresent in today’s culture throughout each household with Wi-Fi routines, 5G and cell towers. There is almost no way to avoid EMF exposure in today’s society. Numerous health disorders including cancer, chronic pain, fatigue and weight gain have all been reported by EMF and blue light exposure.
One of my solutions in fighting this problem is more sunlight exposure and less blue light exposure. Sun exposure has gotten an extremely bad rap in this society. Nearly every health care provider recommends you reduce or avoid sun exposure. The human body is naturally set up for a positive response to sun exposures. Multiple chemical reactions are set in motion by sun exposure including hormones such as cortisol, insulin, testosterone, estrogen and melatonin. In addition, neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin are improved with sunlight exposure. However, the most important vitamin obtained from sun exposure is vitamin D. You can always supplement with vitamin D however; sun exposure is the optimum means to acquire vitamin D. Mainstream medicine and mainstream media have continually sold us the fable that the sun is evil and must be avoided and sun block muscles be warranted at all times. The average American spends approximately 7% of their day outdoors and is usually covered with sunscreen, glasses, a hat and long sleeves. The human body was designed to be outdoors and for all day sun exposure. With the advent of the computer age the percentage of time being spent outdoors continues to decrease. This is resulting in a nationwide epidemic of vitamin D deficiency with resulting health epidemic. Vitamin D is necessary for bone and possible improved function of the immune system. It is critical in preventing osteoporosis. Low vitamin D is also associated with increased heart attack and cancer.
My recommendation is to try to increase sunlight exposure and decrease your blue light exposure. Since I began working out of my home 16 years ago and left the hospital setting behind, I have made it my passion to get outside as much as possible and my health has improved. Obviously, this is dependent on your skin type. So, if you are someone that has never had sun exposure it is best to start slow and not burn. Although it is important to get sunlight every day, it is also important to not burn. It usually takes 4-5 weeks of gradual sun exposure to improve your skin’s tolerance to the sun without burning. On average, sun-lovers live approximately two years longer than those that avoid the sun at all costs. However, I feel this number is probably considerably higher.
My grandfather was a chain smoker for years and lived to almost 90, he was constantly outside as a cowboy and fisherman. In retrospect I feel that his sun exposure offset the inflammatory effects of the chain smoking. Natural sun exposure also simulates insulin production so it is one of the weapons for fighting diabetes we have. Previous studies on mice in Scotland show that mice exposed to UV light from the sun had lower glucose readings and fewer signs of insulin resistance and were less likely to overeat. Yet most physicians will tell diabetics to avoid the sun at all costs and wear sunblock at all times.
As an outdoorsman living in Florida, I have developed my own approach to sun exposure. My skin is very much accustomed to the sun for short hourlong power walks that I do daily, I do not wear sunblock but I do wear a hat. When I am fishing for hours at a time, I do wear sunblock and cover parts of my body and always wear a hat. It is important to find the balance between not enough sun exposure and too much sun exposure based on your skin and body type. If people could just double the 7% number to 15% of their day outside, they could enjoy numerous health benefits from more sun and outdoor exposure.
In addition, because of my job, being very blue light intensive, I tend to avoid screens once I finish work. When I finish work, I limited blue light exposure are much as possible. I enjoy talking on the phone to friends, so many of my conversations are from a landline with a cord. This reduces the risk of electromagnetic fields and blue light. Although I am often maligned by my friends and colleagues for being low-tech, I feel this has long term health benefits.
Enjoy yourselves and spend more time outdoors basking in the sun!