People are spending increasingly more time indoors. This is even worse for people who work desk jobs and drive to work. All they do is walk to their parked cars, drive to work, sit at their desks possibly all day then walk back to their cars, drive to their homes and park right outside their doors. At least people who commute walk to and from the bus stop and spend more time outdoors.
One study twenty years ago found that people spend up to 93% of their time indoors. As our shelters have become larger and studier, the time we spend in them has similarly increased. Our bodies are built to anticipate the outdoors and this break in expected cycles has significant effects on our physical and mental health.
Lack of vitamin D
Exposure to vitamin D aka the sunshine vitamin is critical for overall health. It is named sunshine vitamin because exposure to the sun is the primary source of vitamin D. Although it is possible to get vitamin D through diet, it still is not sufficient because most of it is made by our skin through exposure to sunlight. 6 Health And Mental Benefits Of Sunlight
Vitamin D deficiency can lead to poor bone health manifested in bone pain-related illnesses and muscle weakness. It also leads to compromised metabolic functions. Low levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream have also been linked to cognitive impairment, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer. While skin cancer is linked to too much exposure to the sun, other cancers are linked to too little sunlight exposure.
An increasing number of adults have poor eyesight with research linking this to not spending enough time outdoors as children. Being outdoors trains the eyes to see distant objects and with children spending more time indoors, their eyes are learning to focus only on nearby items which leads their eyesight to suffer. Developing eyes need exposure to good quality light which cannot be found indoors. In Singapore for example, 85% of young people have myopia compared to only 30% of the older generation. Health: 7 Ways To Care For Your Eyes
Anxiety, depression & moodiness
Being sedentary, less social with less interactive and outdoor activities where you are exposed to the sun has a negative impact on mood. Anxiety and depression both go up when people are inside for extended lengths of time. Sunlight leads to an increase in serotonin which is a mood-boosting neurotransmitter. Low levels of serotonin are linked to mood swings, depression, and anxiety. Exposure to the sun increases levels of serotonin. Physical And Mental Benefits Of Reconnecting With Nature
Sleep trouble and appetite changes
The moodiness and depression linked to little exposure to sunlight compromise sleep leading to tossing and turning. Sunlight also contributes to the working of the body’s internal clock also known as the circadian rhythm. Natural light and other external environmental let the body know to stay awake during the day and cue the brain to release melatonin to help us sleep at night. If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, go out for a few minutes during the day, this exposure to the sun during the day will help you sleep. The Four Sleep Chronotypes: How To Use Yours To Boost Your Productivity
The circadian rhythm also can affect your appetite. Staying indoors for prolonged periods can make you hungrier than usual. Being stuck indoors also leads to heightened anxiety which can also affect your appetite.
Weakened immune system
Vitamin D is a key nutrient in strengthening the immune system. Stress and loneliness from being cooped up indoors can also weaken the immune system over time, making you more susceptible to germs and compromising your ability to fight off disease. Reasons You Might Want To Let Your Kids Play In Dirt More
Staying indoors for extended periods can also lead to overwhelming amounts of hopelessness or lethargy. So if you find yourself consistently low on energy, physical or otherwise, it may be time to head outside and catch some sun rays.
Do yourself a favour, make yourself go out for that walk, or drag that chair out and just soak in the sun. Your bones, muscles, heart, immune system, energy levels, circadian rhythm, and mental health will thank you for it.
Here are the Physical And Mental Benefits Of Reconnecting With Nature.
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