“We are an indoor species”

outdoor time

We have been going on about the importance of healthy houses and good air quality; now Tristan Roberts of BuildingGreen reminds us of a reason it is so important- most of us apparently rarely go outside. He checked into the statistical background of the oft-claimed statement that we spend 90% of our time indoors and found a study, almost 25 years old now, The National Human Activity Pattern Survey (NHAPS): A Resource for Assessing Exposure to Environmental Pollutants

time of dayNHAPS/via

Tristan concludes that it is probably accurate, that we do spend 87 percent of our day indoors and another six percent in our cars, though he notes that the study doesn’t “ account well for snippets of time spent taking out the trash, walking to the car, or taking a smoke break outside. However, the authors of the study state that they don’t think that these add up to much.”

activities logNHAPS/via

I look at the typical log that they provide for a day in the life of a subject and wonder if the situation today would be much worse- there is no time spent looking at cell phones or computers, no Netflix, no video games. Things have changed a lot in 25 years. What was true then is probably truer now, encapsulated in a quote from researcher W.R. Ott:

The finding that emerges is that we are basically an indoor species. In a modern society, total time outdoors is the most insignificant part of the day, often so small that it barely shows up in the total.

Katherine has noted that kids don't spend enough time in nature, and that Children spend less time outside than prison inmates. But what about the grownups? A 2010 study found that getting outside for a bit of exercise, fresh air and nature was important, even if it was as little as five minutes:

Every green environment improved both self-esteem and mood; the presence of water generated greater effects. Both men and women had similar improvements in self-esteem after green exercise, though men showed a difference for mood. Age groups: for self-esteem, the greatest change was in the youngest, with diminishing effects with age; for mood, the least change was in the young and old.

After that, I am off for a short walk outside.

“We are an indoor species”
American study shows that we mostly never go outdoors.

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