A new survey found that an increasing number of Americans are spending a large portion of their indoors. Around 25 percent of Americans said they spend almost no time outdoors on any given day, going from home, to work and back home again, only seeing the outside during their commute. 85 percent of women and 67 percent of men surveyed indicated that they do chores around the house until they go to bed.
One factor driving the tendency to stay inside is that many people spend their leisure time in front of screens. The average American spends about three hours each day watching television. Teenagers spend about half of their downtime staring at a screen, whether it is their cell phone, television or computer screen.
The researchers are worried about the health implications of staying inside and breathing stale air all day. Federal surveys have found that indoor air can be more polluted than the air outside because of mold and irritants released into the air by cooking, cleaning products, and burning candles.
The study found that most people are unaware that the air they breathe inside can be more polluted than the air outside.
Peter Foldbjerg, the head of daylight energy and indoor climate at Velux, the company that commissioned the study, explained that “when people are asked about air pollution, they tend to think of living near big factories or busy urban areas with high levels of car emissions."
Spending all day inside could also be negatively impacting people's sleep. Sunlight helps the body regulate the production of serotonin and melatonin which can impact a person's sleep, moods and how much energy they have.
“Exposure to light-dark cycles is an absolutely crucial part of our biology, and that’s due to the role of light in resetting our circadian clock each and every day,” Steven Lockley, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, said in a statement.
The researchers say that making small changes to get outside can be very beneficial. Small things, like scheduling a meeting outside, or taking a walk outside during lunch can boost your mood, and help you relax.
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