Now there is even more reason to enjoy the sun as new research has revealed that sunshine may protect against weight gain and diabetes.
Scientists found that overfed mice with fur shaved to expose their skin were slower to gain weight after basking in ultraviolet (UV) light, the same rays that make up sunshine.
They also displayed fewer of the warning signs of diabetes, such as abnormal blood sugar levels and resistance to the hormone insulin. Words: PA
The benefits of UV treatment were linked to nitric oxide, a compound released by the skin after exposure to sunlight.
Applying a cream containing nitric oxide to the skin of mice was found to have the same effect on weight gain.
However, vitamin D, also produced in the skin by the action of sunlight, played no role, said the scientists.
Dr Richard Weller, from the University of Edinburgh, who took part in the Australian-led study, said: "We know from epidemiology studies that sun-seekers live longer than those who spend their lives in the shade. Studies such as this one are helping us to understand how the sun can be good for us.
"We need to remember that skin cancer is not the only disease that can kill us and should perhaps balance our advice on sun exposure."
Previous studies in people have shown that nitric oxide can lower blood pressure after exposure to UV lamps.
Co-author Professor Martin Feelisch, from the University of Southampton, said: "These observations further indicate that the amounts of nitric oxide released from the skin may have beneficial effects not only on heart and blood vessels but also on the way our body regulates metabolism."
The research is published in the journal Diabetes.
Sunshine getaways for October half term
Sunshine helps prevent diabetes, say scientists
October is the last month of winter in Mauritius, when temperatures reach as high as 26C during the day (that's practically summer for us!). Visiting this Indian Ocean island is a real treat for children and to ensure you and your family make the most of your time in Mauritius during your half term getaway, guests staying at Heritage The Villas, on the south coast, can book a new Family, Camera, Action Holiday, which encourages families to get out into the wild outdoors. From quad biking in the estate’s own nature reserve, to kite surfing at the on-site water sports school, there is a whole host of activities to enjoy. The two to four-bedroom villas were designed with families in mind and there is plentiful space for the kids to run around. The Family, Camera, Action Holiday costs from £4,289 per family (four sharing) for seven nights on a B&B basis, and includes the holiday planning service (a checklist asking each family member what they would like to do on their holiday for the concierge to tailor-make a suggested itinerary), quad biking or a Fauna and Flora Discovery Tour with a family photo-shoot, a family golfing lesson, a kite surfing lesson or catamaran boat trip, and airport transfers.
For guaranteed sunshine, culture and spectacular sights, look no further than Jordan, where the whole family can enjoy a camel ride through the desert, climbing sand-dunes and racing down them, floating in the Dead Sea, snorkelling in the Red Sea, riding a donkey up to the hilltop Monastery in Petra and more! On a family adventure holiday in Jordan, you can also chase goats around the Roman ruins of Jerash, hike through the spectacular nature reserve at Dana and spend a night in a Bedouin tent under the stars. Stubborn Mule Travel offers bespoke holidays with an average cost of £3,500 for a family of four on a 10-day trip, excluding international flights (approx. £500 each) and including accommodation, transport, excursions, breakfast and dinner.
UK temperatures may have dropped but in October Fuerteventura's sea temperatures are at their highest – around 23C. Situated just 100km from the North African coast, the Spanish island's warm climate, sunny weather and long stretches of sandy beach make it the perfect place to base yourself for a week both in and on the water. Avoid the sprawling masses of purpose-built complexes and stay in the small rural village of El Cotillo. Explore the coastline by sea kayak, get to grips with stand-up paddle boarding or perfect your skills on a surf board – and there’s also ample time for mountain biking, sunbathing and tennis. Activities Abroad offers a seven-night holiday, departing Saturday 25 October, which costs from £745 per adult and from £745 per child (age 8+) including car hire, seven nights' B&B in beach-side apartments, some meals, all activities, equipment and tuition. Flights are extra.
While Bali may not be an obvious choice for a family holiday, it’s a destination that is worth exploring – from wildlife and snorkelling in the crystal clear waters, to spending lazy days as a family on the beach. The wet season runs largely from November/December to early March, so in October there’s still a good chance of mostly dry days and temperatures of around 30C. The three-star plus Centra Taum Resort Bali, located in Seminyak, is ideal for families and combines modern and traditional Balinese influences. It has self-catering facilities which always come in handy when travelling with little ones, as well as a kid’s pool for children to splash around in. Hayes & Jarvis is offering a seven-night holiday at Centra Taum Resort Bali, with prices from £1,949 for a family of three (a saving of £432). Departing on 26 October 2014, the holiday includes accommodation on a B&B basis, transfers and return international flights from London Gatwick with Garuda Indonesia.
With average temperatures of 25C in October and wonderful sunshine for getting about on horseback, Tucson is a fabulous place to enjoy a half term family getaway in America. When not basking under Arizona’s glorious rays, you can enjoy cookouts, campfires and hayrides, while the parents can enjoy adults-only time by indulging in Tucson-inspired massages. Ranch Rider offers family holidays at the White Stallion Guest Ranch, which combine horseback adventures in the desert with afternoons spent kicking back by the pool. Seven nights costs from £1,125 per adult and £719 per child (5-12 years), including accommodation, all meals, most ranch activities and transfers. Return flights from £799 per adult and £696 per child (under 12 years).
Fewer crowds and warm weather make October an excellent time to visit Tuscany. Temperatures are an average of 20C and there are fewer tourists to crowd the main sites. Stay in a spectacular villa to really get a feel for the region. Casa Il Melograna is a lovely Tuscan property sitting in a cherished countryside location just 5km from San Gimignano. It is ideal for relaxing in the glorious grounds or exploring the medieval hilltop town with its famous towers. With three bedrooms for up to six people, a spacious living/dining area, covered terrace, private gardens and a pool with a shallow end for children, Casa Il Melograna provides the perfect setting for a family holiday. San Gimignano is on your doorstep, while Florence, Siena, Certaldo and Volterra are all great days out. A stay during October half term week costs £845. Ryanair and easyJet fly to Pisa.
October is a great month to visit Turkey as the temperatures cool down, making it the ideal time to get active on a family adventure break. Sea kayaking, roasting marshmallows over the eternal Chimera Flames, walking through waterfalls and seeing the ruins at Olympus are some of the amazing things adults and children will enjoy. Taking a boat ride to a sunken city, swimming, snorkelling and paragliding are other cool ways to get active with the kids. Families Worldwide has two departures for an eight-day Active Turkey trip on 17 and 24 October. Accommodation is at a highly-regarded hotel at Adrasan Bay, away from the mass tourism resorts, and the packed itinerary includes a selection of activities. The holiday costs from £959 per child (6+) and £979 per adult and includes seven nights’ B&B, all transportation, activities and the services of a tour leader.
North Cyprus is a great place to visit for October half term. The temperature remains in the 30Cs and the sea is nice and warm, making it ideal for swimming and sunbathing. For more active families, there is plenty to do including water sports, diving and rambling. History buffs can get out and about to explore Crusader castles, ruined abbeys, ancient Roman cities and Persian palaces. Direct Traveller is offering a seven-night holiday to North Cyprus from 26 October, including flights from Luton to Ercan and accommodation at Ship Inn Hotel on a B&B basis, for £450 per adult and £425 per child, based on a family of four.
October is a fantastic time to visit Orlando, when the temperatures are a very pleasant average of 25-29C, making it ideal for exploring the family-friendly attractions on offer, including the waterparks. Most of the theme parks have special events to coincide with Halloween celebrations, including Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Disney World and Halloween Horror Nights at Universal. For theme park fanatics, there's nowhere that beats Orlando. Five nights at the Buena Vista Palace Hotel and Spa in the Walt Disney World Resort (room only basis), costs from £540 per person with My America Holiday, based on a family of four (two adults, two children aged 12 or under) and including flights with United from London Heathrow.
Portugal is a fantastic place to take the family for an autumn break. Head for Albufeira, where you can enjoy temperatures of 19C and more space on the beaches now that the summer crowds have left. Club Med's Da Balaia is a golf lover’s paradise, with its own dedicated golf academy, and also caters for families with young children. Live music, a swimming pool and a variety of sports activities ensure that there’s no room for dull moments at this resort. The Baby Club Med and Petit Club Med kids' clubs will keep the little ones occupied, while older children can enjoy playing tennis or swimming. An all-inclusive seven night-holiday, including flights and transfers, costs £875 per adult and £675 per child over six years old (children under six stay for free).
The islands of Kiribati in the Pacific Ocean are some of the sunniest islands in the world. They straddle the Equator and are located close to the patch of the ocean that absorbs more rays than any other piece of water on Earth. Lie on the white sand beaches, try your hand at world-class fishing and visit the numerous WWII ruins, all while soaking up the sunshine, of course!
With over 300 sunny days per year, Andalucia in Spain is one of Europe's sunniest destinations and a centre for 'sun and sand' tourism. The region sees 12 hours of sunshine a day in July, its sunniest month. Ecija in Seville is known as 'The Frying Pan of Andalucia' as it records the highest summer temperatures in Spain. In the winter, Seville, Andalucia's capital, experiences just seven to eight days of rain too, leaving plenty of clear weather and around six hours of sunshine a day.
Looking to hit the ski slopes AND top up your tan? "One of the best places for sunny skiing in Europe is on the Sierra Nevada in southern Spain," says Leon Brown at The Weather Channel. "The resort is 3,400 metres high and often above the clouds! On a clear day you can see the Atlas Mountains to the south in Morocco." With the mountain range located in Andalusia, you can enjoy a high number of sunny days in the winter and ski under blue skies with warm temperatures in the morning, before heading for the beach and sunbathing in the afternoon. It's no wonder Sierra Nevada has been dubbed the world's sunniest ski resort.
With its vast desert landscapes, it's no surprise that the Middle East is a seriously sunny spot on Earth. The Weather Channel's Leon Brown says: "Globally the sunniest places and resorts all year are Dubai, Muscat and resorts in North East Oman, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Kuwait with 13 to 14 hours of sunshine in the summer and 10 hours in the winter." Abu Dhabi (pictured) sees 3,609 hours of sunshine a year.
Not only is Las Vegas one of America's sunniest spots, with the sun shining 85 per cent of daylight hours, it also has an average of 210 clear days in the year and sees little cloud, with only Phoenix and Yuma, both in Arizona, enjoying more clear days. Las Vegas has an annual average of 3,825 sunshine hours and when the sun finally goes down, there's the famous nightlife to enjoy and countless casinos to visit.
The sunniest month of the year worldwide is May and Eureka on Ellesmere Island, northern Canada sees the most of the sun, with an average of 16.5 hours of sunshine a day throughout May and 512 hours during the month. But you may not want to visit this icy destination for a summer getaway as the average temperature in May is -7C! Alert, also in Ellesmere, sees the most sun during April with 377 sunny hours a month and 12.6 hours a day. With it being so far north, the daily hours of bright sun account for just 55 per cent of Alert's daylight.
With up to 10 hours of sunshine a day and 3,863 hours a year, Aswan in Egypt is one of the planet's sunniest places. July is when you'll see the most sunshine in Aswan and there's 375 hours of it to enjoy. Set on the East Bank of the Nile, you can stroll along the Corniche, eat freshly-caught fish in one of the floating restaurants and visit ancient temples.
Alice Springs in Australia’s Northern Territory experiences an average of 146 sunny days a year, as well as 10 hours of sunshine a day during summer. The best part is that the Australian summer is our winter so you can enjoy temperatures of up to 36C in January while your friends at home are wearing their woollies! Leon Brown at The Weather Channel says Alice Springs sees up to 14 hours of sunshine in the summer months and up to 10 in the winter.
Ok, so we know the UK is nowhere near one of the world's sunniest places but we know you're wondering which part of the British Isles does see more sunshine than others. The Weather Channel's Leon Brown tells us the "sunniest places tend to be the south coast around the Isle of Wight to Eastbourne with 16 hours of sunshine in mid-summer." Not bad, eh? Leon adds: "Sometimes the Channels Islands are sunnier, plus in the spring the Western Isles of Scotland can be the sunniest."
Yuma in Arizona is the sunniest place in the world, according to Guinness World Records. The city enjoys sunshine 91 per cent of daylight hours and a mean of 4,055 hours per year. Yuma is also the sunniest city in America, as well as the driest and the least humid. The average rainfall is around three inches a year, but despite having the most sunshine, Yuma is not the hottest place in America and is beaten by Miami and Key West in Florida.
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Autumn sunshine in Europe
Sunshine helps prevent diabetes, say scientists
Hot weather aside, there are plenty of reasons to put Dubrovnik on your autumn holiday wish list: it’s the perfect time of year for Croatian pancakes filled with Dubrovnik’s bitter orange jam, the Botanical Garden on Lokrum celebrates its birthday on the 23rd October and the ferry prices (and tourist crowds) are slashed when you visit the stunning car-free island of Lopud, home to one of Croatia’s best beaches, the Sunj.
For lazy days at the beach combined with buzzing city life, Costa Azul is ideal. Base yourself across the River Tagus in a Costa Azul villa for easy access to the long golden beaches of Portugal’s west coast, with the cosmopolitan lure of Lisbon just an hour’s drive away. In Lisbon, jump on tram no. 28 to explore the cobbled streets of the Alfama neighbourhood or hop on to the Santa Justa lift for views over the Baixa towards St. George’s Castle.
Marrakech is brilliant for an exotic short haul holiday. Even in the autumn months temperatures can reach the low 30s, and as well as plenty of sunshine, the city offers an exciting new culture to explore - all under a four-hour flight away. Stay in Marrakech’s stunning riad hotels - these gorgeous hideaways are right in the hustle and bustle of it all.
La Gomera is one of the lesser known Canary Islands: without an airport (visitors need to take a ferry) this gem has missed out on the tourist developments that have overwhelmed neighbouring Lanzarote and Tenerife, despite its constant warm Saharan winds. Its eco-system is unique, with volcanic black sand beaches around the coast and tropical jungle at the centre. As La Gomera is relatively untouched by mass tourism, there are few hotels; try staying a privately owned villa, like Parque Mirador, for a truly peaceful and immersive Spanish holiday.
This Italian island has a very different feel to the mainland, with a slower pace of life and an independent character. The beaches are dazzling and the food and wine is world famous. Even in October, the island boasts a lovely climate for walking the white sand beaches in Palau. Explore the natural wonder of the stalagmites in Neptune’s Cave before relaxing over wonderfully fresh Catalan inspired seafood dishes in the town of Alghero.
Thanks to Aiya Napa, Cyprus has inherited a reputation for being a party island, but once the off-peak season rolls in the Mediterranean island is a gorgeous retreat, filled with historical and cultural wonders. Even in the heart of party town Aiya Napa you’ll find a 15th century chapel carved from a sandstone cave as well as the Thalassa Museum of the Sea.
Autumn visitors to Mallorca will see the island at its best. With the summer tourists gone, visitors have the chance to see just how beautiful it really is. From quiet villages such as Deia tucked into the hills through to the cultural and lively towns, this Mediterranean island is full of surprises. Art lovers should check out the capital, Palma, with its ancient Arabic architecture as well as its collection of contemporary museums.
Sitting in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains, the coastal town of Kas has some of the most dramatic scenery in all of Turkey. As well as enjoying wonderful beach weather in the autumn months, Kas has plenty of cultural attractions to explore: visit the Old Amphitheatre at night to see it beautifully lit up, take a trip to the ruins of Xanthos and Patara beach and even visit a new country in a day with a 20-minute boat trip to the Greek Island of Meis.
Autumn is one of the best times of year to visit the flatlands of Puglia. Temperatures have cooled down enough to make it ideal for exploring the region's different landscapes, from the last surviving woods of the Foresta Umbra in the north, to the conical stone houses of Trulli Country in the south. For a proper Italian holiday, stay in the traditional Trullo dell’Anfora complete with private pool and trullo-style shower room.
A classic choice for couples, Santorini is one of the most appealing Greek Islands, due to its deep azure seas, stark white dome villages and its glorious weather. The cliff top town of Thira commands one of the best views over the lagoon and its winding whitewashed houses and chapels beg to be explored.