I think everyone following this blog knows I've moved to a new area (Oakland, CA - the good part of Oakland, don't worry). I have to admit, it's taken longer than expected for me to start using my bicycle as transportation again. I could tell you that the hills here are steep, or that there's way more traffic, but those are just excuses in my book.
So today, my daughter and I cycled down to the library and Trader Joe's - yeah!
The best part of cycling (or walking) for me is the feeling of the fresh air and the sun on my face. It's worth the extra hilly, traffic-y commute. But then I just read a new study telling me that the same sunlight I so enjoy in the winter also is making me smarter, or "boosting my cognitive function". I don't know about you, but I'll take whatever I can get.
The Journal of Environmental Health published a study (July 2009) that examined almost 17,000 people, reviewing their sunlight exposure, depression status and cognitive function. They found people with the least sunlight exposure were the most likely to have impaired cognitive function (or "thinking ability"). This was especially pronounced among those who suffered from depression, although it was true across the study population.
I know there are fewer daylight hours these days, but all the more reason to get outside and soak up some sunlight. Remember, UV rays still penetrate the atmosphere when it is cloudy, so don't wait for a perfectly sunny day. Also, you'll recall that the layer of cholesterol beneath our skin produces vitamin D when we are in the sunlight (even cloudy days). And most of us could benefit from more vitamin D, if not a better functioning brain!