The Power of Sunshine for a Healthy Environment

Wednesday, December 7 2011

Organizations that value and support a working environment which helps people to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle will see bottom-line benefits. There are many different strategies organizations can employ to promote a healthy environment; one is to consider the power of sunshine on human health.

I was reminded of the importance of sunlight and the role Vitamin D plays in strengthening our immune system and positively affecting our mood, when I visited a client who has just moved into new office space. The new premises are light and airy. While the rest of employees have workstations along the outside glass walls, the leader’s offices are on the inside. They have translucent walls that provide privacy, yet allow exposure to natural light and sunshine. The environment is uplifting and provides the setting for high morale. People feel better and more enthusiastic when they exposed to natural light.

Prudent exposure to sunshine is a key contributor to everyone’s health. The ancients of Egypt, Greece and Rome worshipped the sun as the wellspring of health. Exposure to the sun’s rays starts the process of Vitamin D production. Known as the “Sunshine Vitamin,” a great deal of current research supports the important role of Vitamin D in the prevention of heart disease, some cancers, diabetes, and neuromuscular disorders. Unfortunately, most North Americans have Vitamin D levels below that required to sustain a healthy immune system, especially during the winter months.

Ensuring safe exposure to sunlight and/or taking Vitamin D supplement daily can do a great deal to foster a strong immune system and long-term health. When workers are healthy they are more efficient and the organization has greater productivity and reduced absenteeism.

Not every organization can move to new premises or alter their existing buildings to allow great exposure to natural light. However all organizations can encourage their employees to adopt healthy habits that prevent disease and encourage wellness. One strategy is to ensure optimal levels of Vitamin D.

Consider the following suggestions for helping people to improve their health:
a)    Encourage everyone to take a 20 minute walk outside at lunch time
b)    Have a team-based company challenge to walk outside during the day
c)    Strike a workplace wellness committee to discover ways to improve health in the office

Daily doses of the Sunshine Vitamin will put a smile on your face.