Everyone has days when they just want to relax in the comfort of the great indoors. But a new study reported on by Time suggests that it could have a negative impact on your physical and mental health if it becomes more than just a way to pass a rainy day. The reason it can be an issue comes down to exposure to natural light, or lack thereof.
Sunlight has many health benefits that can affect both mental and physical well being. It’s a natural mood lifter, and Vitamin D, absorbed from sunlight, can help improve the quality of your sleep, bolster your immune system and reduce inflammation. Electrical lights do not produce Vitamin D, and can even disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythm, leading to insomnia and poor quality sleep.
Spending time out in nature has also been shown to improve a person’s health. Being outside can help alleviate depression symptoms, increase energy levels, and lead to an overall higher sense of well-being. It can also provide exercise opportunities that can provide a break from gym routines that may become repetitive. Daylight can also inspire ways to get fit that involve doing something you enjoy, such as biking or swimming.
A study out of the University of Glasgow found that people who exercised outside, especially biking, running or walking, had a lower risk of poor mental health than people who only worked out at home or in a gym.
You don’t have to give up your sofa and cancel your Netflix account to reap the benefits of spending time outdoors. Just twenty minutes outside a day can positively impact your mental and physical health. Some are referring to it as ‘ecotherapy’, but whatever you choose to call it, you don’t need to do anything complex or difficult to spend a little more time in natural light and nature.
Of course, the benefits of being outside don’t mean forgetting to practice sun safety and make sure you’re watching out for local wildlife hazards, such as ticks or cougars. Remember to wear sunscreen of at least 30 spf, drink plenty of water when it’s hot outside, and follow precautions associated with insects and animals that you may encounter while you’re enjoying outside time. Then get off the couch, and see what the great outdoors can offer! The great indoors will be waiting for you on the next rainy day or when winter brings its icy cold.