The Health Benefits of Desert Living

By Mental Health Center of America

For those of us familiar with the Arizona lifestyle, we know that desert living is unbeatable. From the breathtaking landscapes to the friendly locals in every town and city, Arizona is a great place to live, no matter your age or interests. In addition to the excitement and beauty of this great state, living in the desert also provides significant advantages to health and quality of life.

Photo: Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

Those sunny Arizona days are not just great for day trips and adventure. While sunshine makes for a
beautiful day, it can also make us healthier, both mentally and physically. Living in the Arizona desert provides ample opportunities for residents to soak up the sun, a natural source of Vitamin D. Getting enough of this hormone is essential to maintaining a healthy immune system.

Vitamin D is naturally produced in the skin from exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Few foods naturally contain it, which is why it is hard to get enough through food alone. Fortunately, we live in a state with no shortage of sunny days and according to the health experts of Mental Health Center of America (MHCA), we enjoy mental and physical health advantages like the following:

Reduced symptoms of depression. Vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to depression and anxiety. According to Medical Provider Raul Rivera, P.A. of MHCA, “Vitamin D deficiency is frequently found in patients with depression or anxiety. Getting enough Vitamin D can help prevent the onset of depression and anxiety as well as help patients cope with their symptoms.”

Reduced stress. Just get outside, walk, hike, bike or simply find a nice outdoor space to read. Spending time in nature can help you destress and refocus your mind. It can lead to lower levels of stress and improve focus and mental clarity. Dr. Soffia Palsdottir, chief clinical psychologist at MHCA encourages her patients to spend as much time as they can outdoors. She considers it a strong piece of their treatment.

Increased productivity. “Exposure to natural environments can improve working memory, cognitive flexibility and attentional control. It can even lead to increased productivity and creativity,” according to Dr. Palsdottir.

Stronger bones. Vitamin D plays a vital role in the body’s absorption of calcium. With enough sunlight, calcium is absorbed more effectively, and the bones and joints are stronger as a result. According to Rivera, “Vitamin D helps with maintaining calcium and bone homeostasis, resulting in overall stronger and healthier bones.”

A stronger immune system. Ever wonder why they call the winter months cold and flu season? One reason more people get sick during the winter months could be a lack of Vitamin D found in sunlight. Vitamin D helps the body function more effectively, thus protecting and enhancing immunity.

Improved sleep. Our sleep pattern is regulated by our circadian rhythm that is naturally tied to the sun’s schedule; therefore, spending spending too much time inside away from natural light can disrupt our sleep pattern. “Specifically, direct sunlight in the early morning works with our neurochemistry to support a wide range of mechanisms, one of which being sleep hygiene through the support of our circadian rhythm,” says Dr. Palsdottir.

Preventive health. Studies show that those who do not get enough Vitamin D are more likely to suffer
from osteoporosis, cancer and Alzheimer’s. Getting enough sunlight has also been linked with the prevention of diabetes, autoimmune disorders, multiple sclerosis and heart disease.

Arizona is a gorgeous, exciting place to live. With its sunshine-filled days, warm climate and beautiful scenery, it offers ample opportunities for residents to get outside, soak up the sun and enjoy the physical and psychological benefits of desert dwelling. “While Arizona is an amazing place to live, it is up to us to take advantage of those benefits,” says Dr. Palsdottir. “Get outside and enjoy the sunshine and nature. The benefits to your mental and physical health are immense.”

Mental Health Center of America is located at 7600 N. 15th St., #100, Phoenix, Ariz. 85020. Learn more by calling (602) 704-2345 or visiting

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts