Last Updated: August 22, 2020
The obsession the modern-day parent and child have with the indoor lifestyle probably gives true meaning to the phrase ‘indoor generation’. We now use technology to accomplish productivity and other tasks in the comfort of our sofas, automobiles, and indoor offices. Of course, the Covid-19 strain made the situation worse but there is no denying that staying indoors was already a problem the moment we walked into the 21st Century.
Our obsession starts in the morning when we leave our houses to enter the car and drive to the workplace/school. We hardly spare time to enjoy a moment under the sun because we are always in a hurry to relax and work inside a building. We go through the same routine in the afternoon when we go back home.
The point is, we are always enclosed inside our homes, cars, and workplace/school buildings.
Here is the picture of an indoor generation
According to a survey by Velux, we spend about 90% of our days indoors. Compare that with 90% of the time our ancestors spent outdoors a century ago!
The same data is echoed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), citing the US as an example:
Apparently, the journeys we make to workplaces, schools, and malls happen to be the only time we spend outdoors, and this accounts for only 10% of our day. Still, most of this is done inside the car.
Apart from the total hours we spend for productivity, we spend 3 quarters of the 24-hour cycle doing the following:
- Watching TV, movies, and music
- Playing indoor games
- Exercising inside an indoor gym
- Shopping inside malls
- Dining inside a restaurant
- Going out for indoor entertainment and sports
- Use apps to order for food and other deliveries
The problem with staying indoors
Yes, there is a problem when we choose to spend a bulk of our time indoors.
Our houses collect enough polluting agents which make them unsafe for near permanent abode. They include chemicals, gasses and other substances which can have adverse effects especially to the very young, the elderly, and those suffering from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
Interestingly, many of us actually want this category of people to stay indoors in a bid to make them rest and heal.
People who are often most susceptible to the adverse effects of pollution (e.g., the very young, older adults, people with cardiovascular or respiratory disease) tend to spend even more time indoors.3
This assumption is wrong simply because indoor air is up to five times more polluted than the outdoor air. Even worse, according to WHO, almost 4 million people die every year as a result of illnesses caused by indoor air pollution.
Below are common pollutants found in houses, offices and other closed spaces:
- Chemical pollutants such as carbon monoxide are emitted by gas and kerosene stoves, charcoal grills, and wood stoves.
- Volatile organic compounds are present in paint, varnish, wax, and deep frying.
- Damp and mold growth form inside buildings due to excess moisture.
- Radon gas is a colorless and odorless gas that is a decay product of uranium and enters buildings from soil and rock.
- Pesticides that are used for managing roaches, rodents, mosquitoes, etc.
- Toxic materials such as asbestos and lead.
- Very small and inhalable liquid and solid indoor particulate matter from cars, construction sites, dust, and deep frying.
- Biological pollutants such as bacteria, viruses, pollen, and pet dander and saliva.
- Low-level non-ionizing radiation (Electromagnetic fields) from Wi-Fi, microwaves, cellphones, computers, electric installations – meters, cables, sockets, etc.
The above pollutants and others can lead to fatigue, dizziness, depression, asthma, pneumonia, allergic reactions, headache, heart diseases, leukemia, cancer, etc.
What beautiful things kids are missing outdoors
Our indulgence with the outdoors is so entrenched in us that we hardly realize we spend most of our days inside houses, classrooms, boardrooms, and offices that are unhealthy!
It is scientifically proven that a healthy human body works well when connected with nature. It gets to synchronize with the sun, flora, and fauna. The sun in addition to the night darkness forms the ultimate 24-hour internal human body clock – the circadian clock.
Exposure to the outdoors is advised to enhance physical, cognitive, social, and creative skills in children and adults. This is particularly important in the 21st century now that we have to juggle privates lives with invasive technology and work distractions.
Exposure to daylight is known to boost learning abilities in children by 15%. Playing close to nature also makes them happy, healthier, and intelligent because they are exposed to Vitamin D and other essential micronutrients.
Finally, when children get out of the house they learn to interact with age mates, and by playing and talking together, they discover better social skills than they would if they stayed indoors for extended hours.