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Spring is now in full force and summer is just around the corner. It is a proven fact that, for many of us, with the arrival of spring comes a shift in our mood. When it’s cold, wet, dark and gloomy outside, your motivation levels take a hit, you are more likely to feel tired and lethargic, and it’s only natural that you will want to hibernate! So gone are the winter blues and here to stay for the next few months is better weather, more light and sun, and a happier, more uplifted and positive you.

It goes without saying that a little sunshine and warmth does you the world of good. However, it is medically and scientifically proven that sunnier weather makes you feel, well, sunnier! Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as SAD, was first described and named by South African psychiatrist Norman Rosenthal in 1984. Following his move from sub-tropical Johannesburg to seasonal New York, he noticed quite quickly that he was less energetic and productive throughout the winter months.

So if you are loving the longer days, the lighter nights and the shift in mood which comes with the arrival of spring, then it is definitely worth making the effort to get outside to enjoy plenty of sunshine this spring and summer.

Vitamin D is really important as it supports your immune system and controls the amount of calcium and phosphate in your body. We all need calcium and phosphate to keep our bones strong and teeth healthy. A lack of vitamin D means our bodies can’t absorb enough calcium and phosphorous, which can cause damage.

Vitamin D can be obtained from two sources. First of all from your diet, and second from exposure to the sun.

Good vitamin D-rich food sources include certain foods, such as oily fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines etc.), meat, eggs, and fortified products including breakfast cereals, soya and dairy products and some butter alternatives.

And spending just 10 to 15 minutes a day outdoors during the spring and summer months is enough to dramatically boost your vitamin D levels. Please note, however, that whilst going sunscreen-free is best for ensuring optimum absorption, you should never let your skin burn or spend longer than 15-minutes outdoors without sunscreen. When your skin is exposed to the sun, vitamin D starts to form under your skin by way of a reaction to sunlight.

There have been a number of reports recently which have stated that there has been an alarming rise in the cases of people suffering from a vitamin D deficiency.  This is due to the fact that we spend so much time indoors. Office jobs, travel by car or public transport, relaxing at home in front of the TV… we are spending more and more time tucked away inside – as well as living increasingly sedentary lifestyles, too.

Furthermore, in extreme cases a lack of vitamin D can lead to a really nasty condition called rickets.  Medical professionals are seeing a frightening rise in the number of patients diagnosed with rickets. In children, rickets leads to bone defects and deformities, including bowed legs. And in adults, rickets can make bones painful and tender.  Again, this is due to our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and also the fact that we spend so much time indoors.

And finally, getting outdoors is good for both your mind and your body. Being at one with nature is very grounding and is proven to help alleviate depression, anxiety, tension and stress. Furthermore, when you spend time outdoors you are more likely to be active as opposed to sedentary. From gardening and walking, to playing in the park or going for a jog, there are plenty of ways you can get fit and active outdoors. And, of course, getting fit and active will do amazing things for your overall health and wellbeing too.

Actions speak louder than words

From FREE health club trials to impressive membership deals and great gifts when you refer a friend… Good things definitely come to those who get active! Find out more by visiting the Vital Health and Wellbeing website, or asking at reception for further information.