Woman walking outside in the sunshine

Photo: Thinkstock

1 of 7
Remember to Take Your Sunshine Pill
On those days when you're mentally exhausted before lunchtime, sunshine can make the rest of the day feel less daunting. When our eyes detect light, the pineal gland in the brain produces the feel-good chemical serotonin to perk us up (the root words of serotonin are "serum" and "tonic"—it's basically a happiness potion). The vitamin D you get from sunshine has also been shown to have health benefits, like helping strengthen bones, boosting your immune system and reducing cancer risk, and newer research shows it may help protect the brain. A study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine analyzed the relationship between blood levels of vitamin D and cognitive ability in 858 older adults and found that over six years, people with very low vitamin D levels were 60 percent more likely than others to have major declines in thinking, learning and memory. You'll get a dose of D in about 10 minutes in the sun, so take your tea outside or bring a magazine to the stoop (remember to put sunscreen on your face, but for these short periods, leave your arms and legs bare).
As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.