It's no secret that it can be hard to muster the energy to leave the house during the frigid months of winter. This time of year is the perfect excuse to give your home a seasonal refresh with thick throw blankets, textured pillows, and soft rugs. But once you've turned your home into a cozy respite from strong winds, rain, and snow, it's only natural to want to stay put and rest safely indoors during the depths of winter.
However, at what point does lounging indoors for extended periods of time become unhealthy? According to Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine, "nesting"—the wellness trend involving scaling back your social life in favor of committing time to a bit of self-care—isn't necessarily as good for you as it may sound in theory. In fact, Rajapaksa notes in an article for Health that the practice can have some adverse health effects, but only if it becomes a long-term habit.
Ahead, find out why it's so important to get outside every day—even if it's just for 20 minutes—according to a doctor.
You Need Natural Light
"The biggest issue is that entering hibernation mode means you don’t get any exposure to natural light," Rajapaksa writes. "Sunlight tends to improve your mood, and it helps your body produce vitamin D, which has been shown to help regulate the immune system, reduce inflammation in the body, and more," she continues. That's why it's so important to get outside even for a short period of time every day. The simple activity and exposure to sunshine can help you stay healthy and feeling your best.
You Need Nature
She also points out that a lazy day indoors means you'll spend less time in nature. "Getting some green can help alleviate symptoms of depression, up your energy, and improve your overall well-being," the doctor says. In fact, a study by the University of Glasgow also found that people who exercise outdoors rather than in a gym had a lower risk of poor mental health. If that's not enough to convince you to find time to experience a little bit of nature every day, nothing will.
You Need Ecotherapy
The take-home? "One day inside probably won't hugely affect your health—but it's not great to constantly stay cooped up from morning until dark," Rajapaksa says. Of course, you can't be expected to trudge through nature during a winter blizzard, but it's important to get outside when you can. "On certain days it can feel impossible to spend substantial time outdoors [but] keep in mind that carving out even 20 minutes per day of 'ecotherapy,' as some call it, can do your mind and body good," the doctor points out.