5 Side Effects of Not Going Outside Enough

From sleep problems to trouble remembering things, here's why too much time inside is unhealthy.

Among the many challenges faced by people around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic, spending a disproportional amount of time indoors has proved to be one of the most difficult. Not only does the isolation of life in lockdown present an emotional struggle to maintain one's mental health, but too much time spent inside—and not nearly enough time spent outdoors—also has serious implications for your physical health. One major issue is a potential deficiency of vitamin D, an essential nutrient that your body gets from sunlight, and one that we now know plays an important role in your ability to fight COVID-19. Read on to learn more about the signifiant side effects not going outside enough has on your health. And for more ways to fight coronavirus, learn The One Daily Hygiene Habit You Need to Be Doing Right Now.

Your brain function decreases.


If you want to stay sharp and keep your mind active as you age, it's important to spend as much time outside as possible. In fact, a 2018 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives suggests that people over the age of 45 should consider retiring in a place that affords them the opportunity to spend time in nature. That's because, the participants who did showed a significantly lower rate of cognitive decline over a 10-year period than those who lived in more urban environments.

You experience depression.

Depressed woman on couch

Life in isolation has been hard on the mental health of countless individuals for a number of reasons, including the fact that not getting outside enough can have a noticeable negative impact on your mood.

According to a 2018 meta-analysis published in The British Journal of Psychiatry that looked at 31,424 participants, low levels of vitamin D are associated with depression. And for other ways isolation can take its toll on your well-being, here are 15 Subtle Signs Your Loneliness Is Hurting Your Health.

Your joints ache.

Man experiencing joint pain in his knee

While a lot of factors and conditions can cause you to have uncomfortable joint issues, one of the more common ones is the lack of nutrition uniquely provided by sunlight and being outside.

"Low vitamin D levels in the blood cause an inflammatory response, causing pain and inflammation in the joints," Kelly Springer, MS, RD, founder of Kelly's Choice, previously told Best Life.

You can't sleep.


We all know how essential getting a good night's rest is to both your mental and physical health, but for many of us, it's something that proves difficult to attain with any consistency. There are a variety of reasons as to why that could be the case, including too much time spent inside.

For example, after extensive observation of 9,397 subjects, a 2018 meta-analysis published in Nutrients concluded that vitamin D deficiency is associated with a higher risk of sleep disorders. And for tips on getting more shut-eye, check out these 20 Doctor-Approved Tips to Get a Full Night's Sleep Tonight.

Your immune system weakens.


In a time when doing things to promote a strong immune system is perhaps more important than ever, spending time outside and getting an adequate amount of vitamin D becomes increasingly essential.

In not prioritizing those two things, a 2010 study published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found, you run the risk of lowering your immune system's ability to effectively respond to infections and viruses. On top of that, in a notable 2008 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, endocrinologists concluded that having inadequate levels of vitamin D was associated with an increased risk of cancer, autoimmune diseases, hypertension, and infectious diseases. And to stay healthy, make sure to avoid these 7 Bad Mistakes That Are Weakening Your Immune System.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
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