The ancient Egyptians and Chinese did it. It was popularized in Europe for therapy. In the United States, it feeds a multi-billion dollar industry and plenty of debates. Sun exposure or Light Therapy has been recognized for hundreds of years as a treatment for a variety of ailments. Until lately, there was little scientific proof that the treatments were anything more than a placebo effect. Now, a growing body of evidence shows that exposure to UV rays can help brighten your mood, strengthen your bones, and even protect you from future sun damage.

A suntan is your body’s way of protecting itself from the sun. The more sun exposure you have, the more UV blocking color comes to the surface. In the summer, many people get a sunburn the first time they go outside. This is because their skin was not conditioned to protect itself from the sun after a long, dark winter. To prevent this, many people have turned to indoor tanning to maintain a healthy tan throughout winter.

Although the primary reason for tanning is to protect your body from UV exposure, it also provides you with an important compound, Vitamin D. Vitamin D is created when the chemicals that appear as a tan are broken down and processed inside your body. Vitamin D is important for bone growth, nerve and muscle formation, and immune function. Sun exposure can help reduce cholesterol levels in the body because it is used in the formation of Vitamin D. Research shows that people with adequate amounts of Vitamin D have a lower risk of certain types of cancers and a deficiency of the vitamin has been linked to heart disease, bone loss, and tooth decay.

Sunlight has also been proven to effect heart rate, blood pressure, endurance, mood, and certain skin disorders. It lowers the resting heart rate and can increase cardiac output. People with regular exposure to UV rays show increased energy, muscle endurance, and even a faster metabolism. Seasonal Affective Disorder, a depressed mood in the winter months, was the primary reason for developing indoor UV ray delivery systems. Serotonin is a hormone produced when we are exposed to bright light. Also known as the feel good hormone, it accounts for our wakefulness and happy moods.