Yesterday, Denver, CO was named "Most Desirable City To Live In" by a U.S. survey. First, Denver places 4th on the Nation's Fittest Cities list as reported by Men's Fitness (link). Then it ranks among the Coolest Cities list as seen by MSN (link), and now this (link). 2009 is shaping up to be a good one for the Mile High City.

Perhaps, the reason for all this praise is that Denver clocks in over 300 sunny days a year on average, more annual days of sunshine than either San Diego or Miami Beach. So what? So, everything. Not only does the sun make Colorado's forests green and mountains sparkle, it also keeps the citizens healthy.

Here's how:

The sunshiney feel-goodness starts in the brain, when the sunlight enters your eyes. It feeds into the hypothalamus, which controls body temperature, water balance, blood pressure, and hunger and thirst. From there, it links the nervous system to the endocrine, then traveling to the pituitary gland which secretes essential hormones. All this from sunlight...

Our "body clock" is triggered then, located in the hypothalamus, which triggers stress levels, emotional responses, and immune functions. So you see, now, how inadequate exposure to sunlight can impact your day-to-day operations and the body's abilitiy to function properly.

Additionally, sunlight tells your body to produce Vitamin D - the vitamin that makes bones stronger, teeth healthier, and keeps the immune system in line. The sun also increases the number of white blood cells in the blood, which are the body's defence against infections and are important to your immune system’s response to the organisms that cause illness. Vitamin D also plays the role of increasing the amount of oxygen the blood transports, ultimately giving your body more energy and sharpen mental awareness.

Studies have shown, too, that the ultra-violet (UV) rays of the sun assists in the breakdown of cholesterol, which is known to damage artery lining and cause heart disease.

If you're worried about too much exposure to the sun, a risk that can cause skin cancer, among other ailments, do not fret. All of these benefits, the Vitamin D, the white blood cells, that "feel good" effect, can be achieved with a mere 20 minutes exposure to the sun a day.

So, get outside, open your shades, sit by a window, or drive with the top down. Whatever you can do to let the sun shine on you, do it!

Read about too much exposure to the sun here (link).