There are days when all you want to do is stay at home, never emerging from the couch -especially when you live in the city amid the noise and the hustle and bustle. When you stay indoors, you can enjoy the silence and calm of your own home. But at the end of the day, you may feel a little guilty for not having left the house. So at what point does staying cooped up at home become unhealthy?
So maybe it’s raining outside, you’re off work, the gym is closed and Netflix has just released a new season of your favourite series -plenty of reasons to stay at home in couch potato mode.
Of course, there is plenty more to keep you busy at home, such as DIY projects, arts and crafts, music, gardening -in short, creating things or even reading, among other pastimes, depending on your own particular passions.
Roshini Rajapaksa, a professor in the school of medicine in NYU in the United States, explained to the website Health that staying at home all day long doesn’t pose any “real” risks for your health.
According to the expert, “one single day without going out won’t really affect your health. The danger arises when it becomes a habit.”
The risk for your health arises when you don’t go outdoors for a long period of time, and start to lack exposure to natural light, and thus become lacking in vitamin D. In fact, the sun’s rays stimulate the production of vitamin D in the body, which is essential for balancing moods and regulating the immune system.
The benefits of going outside: sport and nature
Nature has many gifts for us. The sun’s rays provide humans with enough light to produce vitamin D in the body, and the human body is bestowed with muscles that need to be exercised to help us stay fit and healthy.
The two go together beautifully to help us stay in good health: physical activity in the sunshine (even if the day is cloudy, the ultraviolet rays can get through them and reach our skin), ideally every day, or at least every second day.
Natural light also helps the body to maintain its circadian rhythms, which:
- promote good, restful sleep
- regulate appetite
- regulate energy levels throughout the day
However, don’t fool yourself into thinking you can give yourself ‘light therapy’ underneath a light bulb at home! Studies have shown that excessive exposure to artificial light can disrupt the body clock.
In addition, outings in nature, if taken regularly, can in the long term relieve the symptoms of depression. They help boost our energy and promote good general health, thanks to the benefits of physical activity. Walking, cycling, running –all outdoor sports induce health benefits both mentally and physically. Although obviously, the occasional duvet day can do us all good!