Sunlight, Exercise and Vitamin D

The public with enthusiastic support from Canadian postal workers are currently strongly objecting to the federal government’s recent plans to reduce and eliminate residential mail delivery. In one of my earlier posts, I made reference to the scientific literature which seems to postulate the importance of serum level of the sunshine hormone vitamin D in not only slowing  the progression of Alzheimer’s, but also in the prevention of osteoporosis and fractures.

Evidence suggests that as little as half an hour exposure to sunlight a day might be sufficient to maintain the serum level of Vitamin D. Eliminating residential mail  delivery could give not only postal carriers but neighbourhood residents an opportunity to get a bit of exercise and additional sunlight exposure. This could possibly prevent Vitamin D deficiency – especially during the winter months – and may also possibly stave off early onset and/or progression of Alzheimer’s.

Our educators suggest that regular exercise of our school children makes them smarter in school. But is this the correct correlation? Could it be that it is not this lack of exercise, but rather the lack of outdoor exercise which reduces the levels of Vitamin D that results in poor scholastic performance? Especially during those winter months seemingly requiring school bus transportation.

This correlation could very easily be tested. I used to cycle to high school and later to the University of Manitoba daily for 9 years – a distance of 3 miles each way. At age 86, except for a Colles’ fracture sustained when I deliberately fell on my outstretched hand (to avoid a serious injury) on a tennis court in Florida, I seem free of osteoporosis. Mentally, I have not yet joined that group of Alzheimer’s.

Maybe it’s time for school boards to eliminate those yellow monstrosities that we call school buses and have children, especially our high school students, return to riding bicycles? The children would then be able to get in their physical activity – not on school time – and more importantly, our school boards would save tens of millions of dollars in school transportation.

As a footnote, when my wife and I visited China in the 1980’s, I was told that in Beijing alone there were over 3 million bicycles. With the shift to vehicle transportation in China, I wonder what effect this will have on their population – not only on their mental status but also their physical status, like osteoporosis and obesity.