The study, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, found that only 20 minutes of exposure to ultraviolet A (UVA) sunlight lowered blood pressure significantly in 24 volunteer participants.
Indeed, the sun’s effect on blood pressure proved to be so powerful that researchers suggested it may be one reason why residents living in darker northern regions of the world have increased death rates from heart disease.
“We are concerned that well-meaning advice to reduce the comparatively low numbers of deaths from skin cancer may inadvertently increase the risk of death from far higher prevalent cardiovascular disease and stroke, and goes against epidemiological data showing that sunlight exposure reduces all cause and cardiovascular mortality,” concluded the researchers.
For the study, the participants were exposed to a half-hour of outdoor sunlight at the noon hour on a clear, cloudless day in Southern Europe. The researchers then measured the participants’ blood pressure, finding that the sun had decreased it by an average of 5 points, and that it continued to remain lower for 30 minutes.
Because the researchers did not want participants getting too warm from the sun, they implemented controls to protect them against overheating since that could have affected their blood pressure too; thus, interfering with the final results.
Bottom Line: Despite the general notion that the sun is bad for you and can cause skin cancer, this newest study suggests that at least 30 minutes can actually be good for you and your heart.