Can UVA boost stamina?

New re­search sug­gests sun­light may aid en­durance

Trail Running (UK) - - New Science -

It’s very early days yet, but ini­tial find­ings, from a study con­ducted by the Univer­sity of the West of Scot­land, sug­gest UVA could have some in­ter­est­ing, pos­i­tive ef­fects on your en­durance.

The study, pub­lished in March, sug­gests that, ex­po­sure to UVA could har­ness the en­durance­boost­ing pow­ers of ni­tric ox­ide in a sim­i­lar man­ner to beetroot juice.

Ni­tric ox­ide can make your mus­cles work more ef­fi­ciently dur­ing en­durance ex­er­cise. It widens, re­laxes, and di­lates blood ves­sels, which in turn means there’s more oxy­gen be­ing trans­ported to your mus­cles. More oxy­gen means run­ning faster, with more ef­fi­ciency and less fa­tigue. In the case of UVA, sun­light con­verts ni­trate to ni­trite and then to ni­tric ox­ide. Ni­tric ox­ide also has other health ben­e­fits, such as low­er­ing blood pres­sure and reg­u­lat­ing blood sugar.

But, as with ev­ery early find­ing, there are more ques­tions than ac­tual re­sults. The study con­ser­va­tively con­cludes that the data “sug­gests that ex­po­sure to sun­light has a mean­ing­ful acute im­pact on meta­bolic func­tion”. So, don’t jump on the sun lounger just yet.

With that in mind, we should also point out that it’s ob­vi­ously not ad­vis­able to over­dose – how­ever much you might want that en­durance boost – on UVA be­cause it can con­trib­ute to and may even ini­ti­ate the de­vel­op­ment of skin can­cers.

So, yes, go out and en­joy the up­lift­ing power of the sun but take steps to pro­tect your skin from the dam­ag­ing ef­fects of UVA by wear­ing high-fac­tor sun­creen. Af­ter all, you know you can en­joy the su­per­charg­ing pow­ers of ni­tric ox­ide by eat­ing a good por­tion of ni­trate-rich leafy greens and beetroot.

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