In centuries past, humans spent much of their time in nature, hunting, foraging and living life without the comforts of extensive shelters. Fast-forward several centuries, and the tables have turned dramatically.
The Environmental Protection Agency says the average person spends 93 percent of his life indoors, with 87 percent of the time inside of a building, and the remaining six percent in an automobile. These shocking results indicate that the equivalent of just one half of one day per week is spent outdoors. And people may be paying a price for spending so much time indoors.
There are various reasons to believe that being outdoors can be good for a person’s health. The National Institutes of Health and Harvard Medical School say that, in addition to providing physical benefits, simply spending time in nature in any form can improve mental outlook, boost creativity, elevate mood due to natural light, improve concentration, and reduce stress. A study from the St. Louis University School of Medicine also said that spending time outdoors can help a person sleep better. That’s because natural sunlight can set the body’s internal clock.
Despite all of the benefits of getting outside, many people find it challenging to do so thanks to their busy schedules. The following are a few ways to increase time in the outdoors that do not require major commitments.
Bike or walk to work. For those who live close to their offices, walking or cycling to work is a simple way to spend more time outdoors. People who take public transportation can get off the train or bus a few stops early to get some exercise and breathe some fresh air.
Lunch outside. Take your lunch hour outdoors rather than in an indoor cafeteria or restaurant. Office workers are urged to go to a park or green space to give their brains a rest from urban stimuli. Lunch is the ideal time to do just that.
Invest in a screen room at home. A screened-in porch, lanai or other space can bridge the indoors to outside and serve as a restful place to enjoy some fresh air while being protected from insects and inclement weather.
Set strict ‘no device’ times. Schedule a time when devices are disconnected and the entire family enjoys some recreation outdoors. Let kids get back to the basics of bike riding, skating, playing pick-up sports games outside with friends, and all of the activities parents enjoyed as youths.
Dine al fresco. Opt for outdoor seating at a favorite restaurant. This will provide an hour or more to take in the sights and breathe some fresh air while enjoying a meal.
Meet friends at outdoor places. When engaging in recreational activities, plan them at outdoor venues, such as parks, beaches, town centers, boardwalks, and other areas where everyone can have fun and still be outside.
Fresh air, sunshine and time spent in nature are good for the mind and body. People concerned that they’re spending too much time indoors should seek ways to spend more time outside whenever possible.