STUDY Fresh air and sunlight help you stay healthy

T oo much time spent in the warm indoors, too little exercise in the fresh air and too little sunlight can make you tired and susceptible to illness.

Professor Ingo Froboese from the Centre for Health at the German Sports High School in Cologne says, “Even when it's dark and overcast all day long, you should make use of the daylight hours of the day to tank up on sunlight and get some fresh air into your lungs.” Daylight is excellent for keeping your immune system in top shape.

“You should get between 15 and 20 minutes of sunlight a day so your body can develop vitamin D, which is very important for our immune systems,” says Froboese.

Sunlight converts the precursor form of vitamin D, which is produced in certain cells in the body, into active vitamin D. That encourages our immune cells to build anti-microbial Cathelicidin which plays an important role in our body's response to bacterial infection.

“That means sunlight can help you stay healthy,” says Froboese.

“And it does not always have to be direct sunlight, which is in short supply at this time of year.” Even on an overcast day enough scattered light penetrates the clouds to have a positive effect on our immune systems.

“You should also get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day in the fresh air,” advises Froboese. “It can be in the form of sport but even an extended walk can be great for filling your lungs with oxygen.” Oxygen is important for keeping the energy-generating mitochondria in our cells and organs in good condition.

Exercise also keeps our immune system in shape by ensuring that immune cells stay active and effective. Light and oxygen also help you feel good about yourself.