The Benefits of Going Outside

When we were kids we spent every minute we possibly could playing outside until the street lights came on.  Today, we’d rather stay indoors in the air-conditioning.  There’s a real downside to that.

To determine exactly how much time we are spending inside, Yougov did a survey of 16,000 people in North America and Europe, and found that for most people it’s about 22 hours a day.

“The benefits of getting out are that you just increase physical activity.  You increase your metabolic rate to burn more calories, and you also get natural sunlight which is the best source for Vitamin D,” says Dr. Irvin Sulapas, an assistant professor of Family and Community Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and a Primary Care sports physician. 

Your typical office worker, the survey found, is even worse off, spending as little, on average, as 15 minutes a day outside, less than half the time it takes to reset circadian rhythm.  Dr. Sulapas says there could be long-term consequences.  “With low levels of Vitamin D you can feel weaker, more sluggish, sometimes you feel a little bit more down,” he says.

It also doesn’t help that you’re breathing indoor, processed, unnatural air, which has repeatedly been shown to contain higher levels of contaminants than outdoor air.  Even running on the indoor track in the gym isn’t going to yield as healthy a benefit as a run outside.

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