Benefits Of Social Nudity: General Health & Stress Reduction
By Naturist Philosopher
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This is an edited version of a blog posted on 12th March 2015. Part of a series of blogs published on The Naked Philosopher’s website, and the original version of Benefits of Social Nudity: Stress Reduction and General Health can be read in full here.
Most naturists believe that social nudity has significant health benefits, but there doesn’t seem to be much clarity about exactly how. In the early days of naturism (up to 1940s, say), there was a strong emphasis on healthful living. In Germany, nudity was considered a part of healthy living, sometimes referred to as Lebensreform (‘life reform’ in English) that included several principles, like abstinence from alcohol, tobacco (and other addictive drugs), exercise, a healthy diet (in particular vegetarianism) and living in “harmony” with nature with exposure to fresh air and sunshine. For most of these principles there was no logical reason for nudity, except that it was regarded as the “natural” state of humans.
Today, other than nudity itself, these general principles are widely accepted by the public – at least as much as within naturism itself – so it is difficult to regard them as beneficial aspects of contemporary naturism specifically.
It is true, however, that exposure to sunlight (specifically the ultraviolet end of the spectrum) enables our skin to synthesize vitamin D, required avoid certain diseases (e.g. rickets in children). Research also suggests we derived other benefits vitamin D but these claims have not been properly investigated nor is the required dosage known. For instance, long before antibiotics existed, those diagnosed with tuberculosis would be sent to sanatoriums for the ‘sunshine cure’.
The effects of excessive exposure to sunlight are not trivial and well documented: dried, prematurely aged skin, sunburn, and an increased risk of melanoma. Nor is it necessary to be naked. We can synthesize enough Vitamin D through from moderate sunbathing, even in northern Europe, or through our diet.
Apart from claims that social nudity has benefits for our physical health, it is also alleged it has positive effects on our mental health too. Although these claims are generally vague, they do have a “common sense” feel to them, now that we have a better understanding of how psychology can affect our physical health. It has been discovered that psychological stress, especially chronic stress, can be a major factor in several physical diseases, like cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. There may be different reasons why you are suffering from psychological stress, some physical, others non-physical. We are going to concentrate on the latter, with many nudists saying that stress reduction is one of the main benefits of social nudity.
What is stress?
Suppose you are out for a hike in the hills. You go around a bend in the trail, and just 10 feet ahead of you on the trial is a large rattlesnake. Your heart starts to pound, you forget about the trail mix you’ve just been nibbling on, you stop daydreaming about the new car you’d like to buy, and you look quickly around for the nearest large rock or stick. There is a fair size stone nearby, but it’s a pretty large snake, so you decide to make a strategic retreat instead. That’s stress.
Stress is not inherently a bad thing. Our experience of physical stress is what makes possible our dealing with physical threats, e.g. dangerous snakes, effectively in a response known as “fight or flight”. It sends adrenalin to our heart, making it pump harder to send sugar-laden blood to our muscles in preparation for one or the other. It is what sportsmen and women feel as they play, or when we lesser mortals run for the bus.
In early man, whatever dangerous situation was, it was quickly resolved and the body would quickly return to normal. Today, there are a host of sources for stress: the fear of losing your job, actual unemployment, overwork, high bills and low pay are just a few. Occasional stress in dangerous situations is a small problem when compared to the emergency itself. But when we are