Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors

What to know

You can enjoy the benefits of time outdoors without increasing your skin cancer risk by making sun protection a habit.


a senior couple gardening
While enjoying the benefits of being outdoors, people can lower skin cancer risk by using sun protection.

Spending time outdoors can improve overall health and wellness. The outdoors offers many opportunities to be physically active. Time outdoors may also promote mental health and stress reduction.

While enjoying the benefits of being outdoors, people can decrease skin cancer risk from too much ultraviolet (UV) exposure by using sun protection. Protect yourself by staying in the shade, wearing protective clothing, and applying a broad spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Be sure to reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours or more often if you are swimming or sweating.

Communities can help by ensuring shade is available in outdoor public spaces. Schools and businesses may consider adding shade to school grounds and places where people gather outside.

Vitamin D

UV rays from the sun can stimulate production of vitamin D in the skin. Having little or no sun exposure may put a person at risk for low levels of vitamin D, but too much UV exposure from the sun or artificial sources can increase risk of skin cancers and eye disease. The amount of vitamin D a person's skin makes when they are in the sun depends on many factors, including skin tone, geographic location, weather conditions, time of year, and time of day.

The skin can produce only a limited amount of vitamin D at one time. When the body has reached this limit, spending more time in the sun will not continue to increase vitamin D levels. However, continued time in the sun will increase your skin cancer risk.

Vitamin D can be obtained safely through food and dietary supplements without the risks associated with overexposure to UV. Food sources of vitamin D include some types of fish; foods with added vitamin D, such as some cereals; juices; dairy products; and egg yolks.


Physical activity

Vitamin D