Roughly 25% of Americans live like vampires, hardly ever venturing outside and living through their computer and television screens while doing all their shopping through Amazon, according to The Washington Times.
Peter Foldbjerg, the head of daylight energy and indoor climate at Velux, a window manufacturing company, said an increasing number of Americans do not get adequate outdoor time, including fresh air and sunlight.
“We are increasingly turning into a generation of indoor people where the only time we get daylight and fresh air midweek is on the commute to work or school,” said Foldbjerg.
The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Americans run a nine-hour workday on average and that upon returning home, 85% of women and 67% of men say they do work around the house with leisure time increasingly becoming synonymous with television viewing. Americans spend nearly three hours a day watching television. More from The Washington Times:
For the Indoor Generation Report, commissioned by Velux, researchers surveyed 16,000 people from 14 countries in Europe and North America about their knowledge and perceptions of indoor/outdoor air quality and the amount of time they spend inside.
For Americans, one-quarter said they spend 21 to 24 hours inside daily, 20 percent said they spend 19 to 20 hours inside and 21 percent say they spend 15 to 18 hours inside.
Thirty-four percent said they spend zero to 14 hours inside.
Dr. Natasha Bhuyan, a family physician with One Medical in the District of Columbia, said the increased indoor time has massive health effects.
“I think, time and time again, research shows that people who spend more time indoors — whether it’s at home or sitting all day at work — they tend to be linked to higher rates of obesity, issues with cholesterol, and also mental health issues like anxiety and depression,” she said.
The air quality indoors also poses greater health risks, with federal surveys showing that indoor air can be “two to five times more toxic than outdoor air.” Problems like humidity and mold are two of just many problems posed by indoor air, not to mention the greater exposure to colds and flus.
“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,” Mr. Foldbjerg said. “It uncovers a need for further awareness and education about the impact our indoor living habits are having on our body and minds in terms of health and well-being.”
“A lot of my patients are professional who just work all day and are in front of a screen all day,” Dr. Bhuyan said. “They’ll get neck pain, they’ll get eye strain from staring at the screen all day, and I tell them, ‘You’ve got to take a break.'”
Studies show that prolonged exposure outdoors produces terrific health benefits, such as vitamin D production, physical activity, and improved moods.
“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,” said Steven Lockley, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders. “If you’re exposed to brighter and bluer light in the daytime, then you get a better stimulant effect. You’ll be more alert and have better cognitive function; potentially be more productive at work and so on.”
Dr. Bhuyan said that work demands too much and getting outdoors no longer feels like a priority.
“It’s often sad because it doesn’t feel like a priority to so many people,” Dr. Bhuyan said. “But it’s those small things that add up and have a huge impact on your health.”