Editorial: Take advantage of the new season


The ISD Editorial Board encourages all students to take advantage of the spring weather and spend more time out in the sun.

Editorial Board

Spring is finally here! After months of overcast skies and ice-cold temperatures, we seem to have turned the corner. As temperatures rise and days stretch out, we want you to be able to take full advantage of the physical and mental benefits that sunlight can bring. 

The most well-known benefit of sunlight is the creation of vitamin D when UVB rays interact with proteins in the skin. Vitamin B is responsible for managing your body’s calcium levels and therefore your long-term bone health. It also supports your immune system, reducing inflammation and helps your gut metabolize glucose. 

It is important to note that windows block most UVB rays, preventing you from reaping sunlight’s rewards. 

A second effect of sunlight hitting the skin is the production of impressive endorphins called beta endorphins. These attach to your opiate receptors to reduce pain, promote a feeling of satisfaction and make you feel relaxed. It essentially hits all the “feel good” buttons on your brain, improving your mood and fighting depression.

Sufficient exposure to sunlight also keeps your circadian rhythm, your body’s natural cycle on a healthy schedule. Your circadian rhythm determines when your energy levels peak and fall and controls when many body processes like metabolism happen. The cycle is set on light cues, such as bright light during the day and darkness at night.

Removing or confusing these light cues by staying indoors all day and then staying up late in a lighted room can confuse your body and ruin the cycle, causing uncomfortable symptoms similar to jet lag. Exposure to sun in the morning and throughout the day can keep you on a proper and healthy cycle. 

During a semester that is built to be completed inside an apartment or dorm room, it can seem difficult or out of the way to spend time outside. But we brainstormed a few little things you could do to maximize your safe time in the sun. 

First, walk places! If you have any in-person classes and live reasonably close to campus, walking to school is a great way to expose yourself to sunlight and the outdoors in general. Leaving home a little early is well worth the exercise, fresh air and benefits of absorbing sunlight. 

If you are all online, it is also very possible to do your computer work outside on campus. The university has multiple locations where outdoor Wi-Fi is available. Sit at a table outside Parks or just plop down on the grass on Central Campus. A map of outdoor Wi-Fi locations is here.

Want to get outside and not think about school? Ames has a great selection of parks, 36 to be exact. Here is the link to all of their information.

Taking in this sunlight should be done safely of course. As with any good thing, too much can be bad for you. As many people know, prolonged and unprotected exposure to sunlight can lead to burns in the short term and skin cancers in the long term. Everyone is susceptible to sunburn, but those with lighter skin are at greater risk of damage. So when you do take advantage of the longer days, research what SPF sunscreen you should wear and try to stay aware of how intense the UV index is at that time. 

To summarize, sunlight has many mental and physical benefits. It can make your body function better and your brain feel better. Walking and studying outside are great ways to absorb enough sunlight, granted you take proper precautions to protect from burns.