In the winter months many of us retreat into our houses and stay there until the weather is warmer. OK, we might not be completely like hermits that never go out, but even many shops are ‘indoor experiences’ these days.
According to the World Health Organisation, we spend around 90% of our time stuck indoors. That’s a really sad fact.
we spend around 90% of our time stuck indoors
With fuel prices so high and everyone trying to be ‘energy efficient’, it’s no wonder that the windows on our homes stay closed until spring.
The problem is, the air in our homes gets stale, and that’s not very good for our family.
The problem with stale air
In a home with poor air circulation, you might think the most obvious problem is that we are all breathing in and recycling each other’s breath. This could be a major factor in why the common cold spreads so much in winter (but as all of us with kids at school know, they bring more bugs home than homework sometimes!).
But it’s not the recycling of other people’s air that’s the main problem.
Without proper air circulation in your home, chemicals can build up and the air quality can be become very poor.
Chemicals are released from all sorts of items, from cleaning sprays, to even the fire retardant coating on furnishings.
Stuffy air may cause the following:
- sinus discomfort
- upper respiratory congestion
- eye irritation
There has been a study that showed an increase in CO2 (Carbon Dioxide), which we all exhale, can lead to poorer concentration.
Modern building standards insist on an adequate air circulation, even in the most environmentally friendly ‘sealed’ homes. However, not all of us live in homes that meet the latest building standards.
“…mould growth, and pollutants originating within a building which would otherwise become a hazard to the health of the people in the building.” Source: HM Government building regulations regarding to ventilation
Devices like computers and TVs give off positive ions, which are believed to contribute to irritability and bad moods, and bad moods can then go on to contribute to increased blood pressure and weight gain.
Is anyone in your family showing symptoms of being stuck indoors too much?
If anyone in your family is showing any of these symptoms, being stuck inside could be a contributing factor. Fortunately there’s a simple cure…
The benefits of fresh air
There are lots of benefits to getting outside, but let’s just look at fresh air for the moment.
Here are some of the reported benefits of getting fresh air.
- Fresh air can make you feel more energised
- It can help you sleep better
- It can help decongest you if you have a cold
- It can relieve the symptoms of being shut inside with stuffy air
- Negative ions can help restore your mood
The Journal of Environmental Psychology published a study that getting outside in nature can make people feel more alive, and as we all know, taking a baby for a walk outside will often send them to sleep.
getting outside in nature can make people feel more alive
In fact, a study by Dr Yvonne Harrison showed that babies also sleep better at night after spending time outside. What works for babies probably works for all of us.
sleep better at night after spending time outside
Smells in the air outside can also play an important part on our health. It’s well know that the scent of lavender has a relaxing effect on us, but did you know trees do to? A study in Japan showed that walking through a pine forest can help reduce stress.
lavender has a relaxing effect on us
The scent of pine can also help with decongesting sinuses if you have a cold.
walking through a pine forest can help reduce stress
Another factor that may not be so apparent is negative ions.
The air always feels fresher and restorative after a rain shower, near a waterfall, on the beach, or even up a mountain. That’s partly due to the negative ions that are given off.
The air is fresher and restorative after a rain shower, near a waterfall, on the beach, or even up a mountain
Studies have show that negative ions can have a positive effect on our mood, and even help people with depression. It is believed that they cause a biochemical reaction in our bodies that increases production of the mood chemical serotonin. They also increase the flow of oxygen to the brain making you more alert and less drowsy.
more alert and less drowsy
Go on, get outside
If you don’t even take into account the benefits of exercise and daylight, the benefits of fresh air are certainly compelling, and another great reason to get your family outside.
Don’t forget to also open your windows on your home every now and then too, and let some of that beneficial fresh are in and the bad stale air out.
References & More Information
If you are interested in reading up more information on the topic, here are some references and resources.
- Building Regulations for Ventilation, HM Government
- Indoor air quality and the work place, CWA
- Exhaled air: a problem in buildings?, Student Science
- Lets go to the park, NHS
- Study shows that spending time in nature makes people feel more alive, University of Rochester
- A daily dose of fresh air helps babies to sleep longer at night, The Telegraph
- The healing power of pine, Health.com
- Negative ions create positive vibes, WebMD
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