BODY & SOUL: Healthy Indoor Living
by Mike Holmes Jr.
The amount of time that we spend indoors might surprise you. Most Canadians thought that they spent, on average, 68 per cent of their time indoors. A recent survey called The Indoor Generation Report, published by YouGov, found that we actually spend 90 per cent of our time inside.
Many of you, who are of my parents’ and my grandparents’ generation, would say that they spent more than 32 per cent of their time outdoors as a child – heading out at daybreak and returning home as the sun set. This was before technology, and when parenting styles were a tad more relaxed. Whether you’re still working, or are retired, think about the time that you spend in the office, at the gym or inside your own environment. Sometimes this has to do with health issues, but our lifestyles are more centred around indoor activities than they used to be.
We all know that our physical, and mental, health are impacted by remaining sedentary, and not getting outside for a breath of fresh air. “The rapid change in our lifestyles, from spending large amounts of time outdoors for work or relaxation, to becoming an indoor generation, carries with it several risks, not least when it comes to health consequences from dark, poorly ventilated homes,” says Dr. Hilary Jones. “Equally, we must make sure that we’re getting the light exposure that we need to protect our immune systems. Many of us do not realize that lack of light can affect our sleep patterns, which, in turn, increases our risk of depression, diabetes and heart disease.”
AIR QUALITY CULPRITS
Our everyday routines, like cooking and cleaning, as well as something as simple as lighting a candle, all contribute to the quality of our indoor air. If we spend too much time in a cramped office space or a small room, the dust, alone, can increase our risk of contracting a respiratory disease like asthma. This risk is higher for children and seniors.
While many of us would like to think that our indoor air quality is no worse than what we breathe outside, it can be up to five times more polluted.
SNUG AS A BUG IN A RUG
So many studies and reports only highlight the alarming results. However, when we know better, we do better. Once you know how you are personally affecting the quality of your indoor air, you can make small changes to help improve it.
One of the most obvious things that you can do to let fresh air into your home is to open the windows – especially when you’re bathing, cooking or cleaning. By doing so, you help to keep allergens, like dust mites, under control.
NIGHT AND DAY
There’s nothing like a good dose of sunlight to brighten our frame-of-mind. The Indoor Generation Report also found that 63 per cent of respondents believe that daylight had a significant effect on their mood, and research shows that daylight is the primary cue used by the human circadian clock, which helps to regulate our natural sleep/wake cycle.
We’re fortunate to live in a country with changing seasons, and wide open spaces. No matter how much, or how little, you’re able to do on a physical level, make sure that you get outside whenever you can.
To help raise awareness of the importance of healthy indoor air quality, VELUX has launched a short film on YouTube called The Indoor Generation. With close to eight million views, it’s worth checking out.
Mike Holmes Jr. is a Canadian builder/contractor and television host, who received the education of a lifetime working alongside his father, Mike Holmes, on Holmes on Holmes.