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Don't get outdoors?

 
pollinator
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Is this unbelievably weird, or what?! According to an article from the online Men’s Health magazine, “Americans today spend 92 percent of their time indoors”.  I’m stunned.

The article says — and this is, to me, the really weird part — adults (or adult men) should spend 20 minute each day outdoors, 5 hours each month in semi-wild nature, and 3 days spent each year off the grid in nature, camping or renting a cabin. The author calls it the 20-5-3 rule.

(Big whoop for the prescription!… LOL)

Can that 92% figure be correct?? I can’t believe things have degenerated this much for Americans or American men. I’m Canadian but, please, I don’t at all mean to denigrate Americans. I don’t doubt that the percentage of outdoor-phobic or outdoor-deprived Canadians might shock me.

Here's the article: The 20-5-3 Rule
 
pioneer
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Among my friend group, the vast majority are only outdoors when walking to their car or back. From my own experience (and indoor-reclusive habits) I think a lot of it is related to technology being a prominent platform for socialization/entertainment/productivity.
 
pollinator
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I think the research cited in the article sets out the absolute minimum at which benefits are measurably found.

I believe it. Of course if the world would let me, I would change the scale to 20 minutes per hour, 5 hours per day, and 3 days per month. But that might blunt the buzz.
 
master gardener
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There is a phrase in research referred to as the tyranny of averages.  If this was a truly random study, some of the people in the study were in nursing homes, quite elderly etc.  If it was not a random study, it’s value diminishes.

Even so, I suspect it is more accurate than not.  I had a job were I drove around 50,000 miles a year. Very early on I was struck my the fact that I rarely...maybe never...saw children playing outside.  I have no doubt that learned behaviors carry over into adulthood.

And, at the risk of messing with the subject of the post, look up how many minutes a day married couples talk to each other.
 
pollinator
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The article implies that adults spend LESS than 20 minutes outside, but the headline figure of 92% means they spend nearly 2 hours outside each day.
Sure most of that is probably running between shops or sitting in the car.

While I'm sure the author has good intentions it's mainly out of reach for the majority. unless you live right next to one of these parks (which probably means you are not in the target audience anyway) one will struggle with getting there every day, it might take a couple of hours on public transport to reach a city park. and much longer to get to a state one.  public transport will undo any stress relief instantly!  Even for me who lives out in the country albeit in a different country, to get to somewhere where I can get off the road and walk in woods takes 20-30 minutes walk just to get there, and not a pleasant walk either a dodging articulated lorries while walking on the main road type of walk.

And just think if the millions of people who live in cities actually all followed this advice.. there would be no wild land without a tent shoved on it at the weekend!
 
pollinator
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From my point of view I see it as a true picture.  My son or I spend more time outside on the farm in one week than all my nieces and nephews will all year.  This week we had 2 nephews and 2 nieces spend all day inside my mother in laws house.  They live right next to us.  They just stay in the house and knock on the window when they see us.  Plants and animals no longer attract kids.  I was told that it is too hot outside.  I wondered to myself how I could be hoeing the corn and not be too hot.
 
gardener
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I have only one set of neighbors I often see outdoors.  But we are likeminded with each other---working with your hands, sticking close with friends and family, raising at least some of your own food, tending animals, etc.  I rarely see anyone else outside in the neighborhood. We wave at each other when in passing, but seeing them outside for any length of time is a rarity.

Many of my church friends have land and garden/raise animals/etc. They do spend a fair bit of time in the sunshine. It's funny how I seem to notice polar opposites. Either you're spending a lot of time outdoors, or nothing.

I think there is conflicting health information being disseminated--go outside for Vitamin D, but don't go outside without sunscreen. Sunscreen might not protect against the full spectrum of UV radiation, so don't spend too much time outside. As you mentioned, I think the general consensus is 20 minutes outside each day. I think, like you, that's the absolute bare minimum.

Someone (I think Gauci?) mentioned that right about the time farmers started growing tomatoes in hothouses instead of outdoors, rates of skin cancer rose. I don't know if there's a correlation...just that I don't think vilifying sunshine is wise.

Even if it's a cloudy day where Vitamin D synthesis isn't going to happen, going outside is good for us in so many other ways. Breathing fresh air, listening to the songbirds, enjoying green trees, watching toads, admiring wildflowers, whatever...it's all a benefit to our health. (I know I'm "preaching to the choir" here...)

Interesting article, Joel. Thanks for sharing!
 
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Theres no doubt that there is a strong indoor culture in America today, though I'd be curious how the pandemic has skewed things. While you might think a scary global virus would keep most folks indoors (and perhaps it did, at first), the result has been the opposite in the US. That is certainly true where we are. Outdoor activities have exploded in popularity in the last calendar year. Mostly these are people visiting or relocating to a more rural climate, specifically to take advantage of all that beautiful Outside. It will be interesting to see if this new mentality sticks and grows. For myself, a life led almost completely indoors sounds a lot like prison.

 
Skandi Rogers
pollinator
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Rio Rose wrote:While you might think a scary global virus would keep most folks indoors (and perhaps it did, at first), the result has been the opposite in the US. That is certainly true where we are. Outdoor activities have exploded in popularity in the last calendar year.



It's been the same here, when you can't go out to all the normal things like a restaurant or a museum or the cinema you get bored at home, so you spend more time outside in the "wild" as it were.
 
gardener
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I totally believe that Americans spend that little time outdoors. I can see why. Even living in well to do neighborhoods when I was a kid, being outdoors there was not very pleasant for me. There was usually mostly lawn and few or no large trees to offer any shade, so with all the pavement around, it was hot. And to my eyes, pretty ugly, boring and devoid of much "nature". Often, when I would try to go out anyway, I'd be driven back inside because one or more people would be spraying their lawn with toxic gick, sometimes surrounding me in a cloud of it. So hanging outside at home wasn't great and any nice parks required driving, sometimes for a long time. I can't even imagine how unappealing it would be for folks in more urban areas to go outside somewhere that was relaxing and pleasant. Add in the temptation of screens and the comforts of air conditioning, etc. and I see why people stay inside. Plus, I feel like when so many people are living at a super frantic pace, running from one thing to the next all the time and needing to always be "productive", just going outside and being in nature is a totally different energetic space to be in. And even though it's desperately needed, it might feel uncomfortable to some. Lots of folks seem to be so used to constant stimulation and entertainment that they don't know how to cope with slowing down.

When I worked at a wilderness camp for kids, I loved seeing kids move out of being afraid of the outdoors. I think the lack of familiarity creates a lot of fear and avoidance. But once they would get out there, push their edges of comfort a bit and start learning about the environment around them, they would be happily eating weeds, getting covered in mud, even being willing and happy to sit quietly and observe what was going on around them! I believe we all need nature connection to be happy and healthy. There's an excellent book about how crucial this is, "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder", by Richard Louv. But obviously it's not just kids that have nature-deficit disorder.

I so hope the time and ability to be in natural spaces becomes more accessible for everyone. I think permaculture can help with that. I know that working with the land I steward in that way provides me an amazing sanctuary so I can access nature just by walking out my door. I think it being that easy is important. And I think more people could have that if we start working with nature instead of "landscaping" everything. While a backyard or small planted space isn't the same as getting out into a forest, I think regular, preferably daily connection is so essential and could be more a thing the more folks turn their lawns, sidewalks and everyday spaces into gardens, food forests, pollinator habitat, etc.
 
gardener
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I'm not here to debate whether the article is correct or incorrect, just to suggest that this is a poster article for why food forests and messy gardens make for healthier people as well as healthier plants!

If I think of most of the "Public Green Spaces" in my local small city, they're all neatly trimmed and edged, and the grass is neat enough to be a golf course - clearly we need to encourage more wild-looking places in our cities, or at the minimum,  poly-cultures to balance the tendency to park a tree all alone in a sea of grass!
 
pollinator
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Heather Sharpe wrote: I can't even imagine how unappealing it would be for folks in more urban areas to go outside somewhere that was relaxing and pleasant.



Actually, I would not be surprised if urban residents spend more time outside.  I've spent most of my adulthood in large cities, and like many city dwellers I walk, bike, or take transit (which requires walking and waiting outside) for my commute and many daily tasks. Many city office workers eat their lunch outside in parks in nice weather. And of course there is the time honored tradition of hanging out on street corners and in alleys...

I expect many of the Americans who spend the least time outdoors live in places where outdoors spaces are either purely recreational/decorative or else utilitarian and hostile; e.g. you have to drive past the crummy vacant strip mall and the manicured gated community to get to that park where you can ride your bike in a loop around the little lake and feed the ducks/dodge the geese.  You don't walk or bike *to* the park because the only way to do so is on the shoulder of dusty highway with cars flying by  10 mph above the speed limit.

 
pollinator
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I can't believe the 92% thing.  
Most everyone I know spend at least 1/2 their time outdoors.   I live way out in the middle of nowhere and that's just the way people are.   I expect maybe big city dwellers don't have yards, chickens, ponds and pools, parties every other weekend, etc.  But I don't believe the cities contain much over 1/2 the population.  
Even city folk probably come out hunting, fishing, maybe golf...  
If the story is true, it is very sad and could explain all of the health problems Americans are getting
 I'll get me a TV and stay inside when I get too old to do anything else I guess
 
pollinator
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People spend 1/3 of their time asleep, typically this is inside, 1/3 of their time at work, most people inside, so we are already down to only 1/3 of time available to be outside. Given that it's not shocking that most people's time is inside. Add to that people that are unable to get themselves outside and you can see where these numbers come from.

As a child, I spent lots of time outside, so did my kids. If kids don't, regardless of where they live, it's probably because they don't want to.

That being said, I don't much worry about what others are doing in this regard, to each their own.
 
pollinator
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This will seem waxing a bit unnecessarily nostalgic, but may help lend some context to the discussion.  I just turned 60 not long ago so that put my youth and young adult years in the late 1960s through the 1970s.  'Home' was not the most enjoyable place and so outside was rather welcoming....fortunately both parents fostered a sense of getting out of the house and either into the garden or .... just.....'somewhere'.  

What follows is where the observation over several decades is most discouraging and I'm not sure exactly what factors are causal.  We lived in a city of about 70,000 in the midwest of the USA....and maybe it's that my parents were overly trusting from having grown up on farms, but they worried little about our whereabouts.  It's not that they didn't ask, it's just that they assumed we were with friends, either down at the local river just mucking about or maybe making a visit to the Mall (which would last all of about 15 - 20 minutes) ...... transporting ourselves to each other's houses or parks or whatever by our own locomotion, being foot or bicycle.  This seemed to be a pretty standard lifestyle for many friends and classmates at the time and we really didn't think twice about it.  All throughout successive decades of schooling and professional training, my own interests in being outdoors to match much of my younger years did not change.  As my wife and I did not have kids, we were left to observe peers having their own.  Perhaps the most striking observations were (a) children's time was increasingly regimented, mostly involving indoor activities, but not always, (b) "fear" of children and adolescents going about on their own seem to increase proportionally with the ability to maintain contact with them via cell phone, (c) while housing lot size seemed to be shrinking over time, the number of 'accessories' .......play gyms, decks with bbq's, all enclosed by chain link fencing.....for spending time outside appeared to be increasing, while at the same time (d) the same yards seemed increasingly devoid of people.  I have no doubt that as others have lamented, the edu-seducto-entertainment phenomenon was powerfully at work to transform the population from one engaged with the outer world (such as it was already) to one produced by...and directed by....human vision.  Not being a parent, I have not felt the pressures and anxieties induced by the "Mozart-in-every-crib' era where the developing mind will just need enough, and the right quality of, analog/digital stimulation to come out 'just fine'.....but how this plays into the seeking of 'indoors' as opposed to 'outdoors' is perhaps no accident.  As other writers have noted, this may be the logical trajectory of a species determined to live in pods while on the next great journey to worlds unknown.  An unfortunate riddle to be sure.....
 
Mk Neal
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John, as a parent of two adolescents I think you are spot on about modern trends of structured time and supervision for kids. I am a lazy parent and my kids have not had so much structured time. I was very glad when they were ready to walk themselves to school, and when I could send them to corner store for toilet paper or whatever and not have to do everything myself.  

However, I also know many parents around here are very worried that their kids will be pressured into gangs or worried that police will mistake kids goofing around for real criminal behavior with dire consequences. So I am either privileged or naive, or a bit of both.

Maybe one factor to consider is how to make a community where everyone feels safe outside.  Mollie Tibbetts and Ahmaud Aubery were both excercising outdoors and targeted by killers. Not that jogging is a statistically unsafe activity, but many do not feel safe in the outdoors because of harassment or "stink-eye" that has a hint of violence.
 
gardener
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There are some interesting thoughts and facts in this thread.

As a person who basically grew up outside (with all the children in the neighbourhood) it makes me very sad to see how little today's kids are outdoors, including my own. I blame the distractions of all the social media and availabillity of Netflix etc. that makes being outside look less interesting. We do have a garden, I encourage my kids but even I fail at getting them more connected to nature.
My eldest daughter likes to go for a walk, either alone or with family members, youngest son has a job of distributing local newspapers which gets him outside for several hours each week, but middle daughter prefers to stay indoors (in addition she has severe arachnophobia so she will always find an excuse).
How horrible to come in from the garden and look after my teenage kids and they are all secluded in their - often darkened - rooms with their mobiles or computers, like vampires or zombies. It makes me very sad but I cannot beat them up or anything like that.
At least they know about flowers, how food is grown, where eggs and honey come from etc. I will not stop dragging them outside to see a newt or a newly hatched dragonfly or similar.

Most of my neighbours here in my little Bavarian town are regularly seen in the garden. Some will also take walks, bike trips or similar, others mostly leave their house in the car. But almost noone is exclusively in the house or car.

This is in stark contrast to what I have experienced in the US. The first time I was there after highschool I wanted to bike to the nearest supermarket (together with a friend) and my hosts were a bit shocked, although it was not far away. No bike lines, no pavements for pedestrians, you know better than me.
Also later in Kentucky where husband worked for a while. And all the stories you hear from friends who got stopped for walking (often in a friendly way, sometimes by police) or who are discouraged to let their children roam outside, walk to school or to the playground which is not only common but encouraged here in Germany.

Schoolkids here do excursions to go out in nature. It requires a longer trip if it is an urban school, but they will do it as well. Our elementary school around the corner has special theme days involving the habitats pond, hedge, forest, meadow. Last friday I held the meadow project for first-graders together with a colleague. We had them look at the different plants, collect flowers, listen to the bees, imitate the different animals etc. It was real fun and made the theory more palpable. I am including a picture. It shows the strip of meadow that was planted and is maintained by the community and is within walking distance from the Elementary school.

Someone mentioned "Last child in the woods", this school of thinking is gaining popularity here in Germany and there is a movement to make the public spaces, especially recreational spaces in schools "wilder" and more diverse. There are beautiful examples, and in the meantime there are studies that show that those schools with high-value recreational spaces have pupils with better grades, less violent behaviour and similar.
This link shows some examples for these spaces (pictures on that page itself, more if you randomly click on one of the listed places).
Naturerlebnisräume

DSC_6936.JPG
Meadow theme day with first-graders
Meadow theme day with first-graders
 
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I get more time out doors on weekends than during the week. Also my daughter has medical conditions that are exacerbated by heat so when she is with me I tend to spend more time inside with her...

Yes more time outside is a good thing! I often wander outside just to stare at the trees and scrub behind our house.
 
Mk Neal
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Anita, I feel the same as you as far as my kids defaulting to youtube for their free time!  However, I do think that if we as parents et the example by choosing to spend our time outdoors on active and constructive activities, then the kids do pick this up.  It's like serving healthy dinners--the kids may still spend their pocket money on junk food but they are learning good habits for life.

One of the reasons I have chosen to live in cities during my adulthood is because of everything you noted in your time here in the U.S.  In the city neighborhoods that pre-date the postwar car culture, commercial and residential are more mixed and the built environment is on a human scale.  So my kids can and do walk to the store and to school, and to get them to the after school program at the city park, the after school teacher fetches all the kids by foot and they walk together to the park.  Now my older kid is a teenager, and if there is a place she wants to go, she will map out the best bike route on line.

The public schools here have gotten much healthier the past decade.  They have better quality food (thanks Michelle Obama!), and my kids' school even has vegetarian option everyday. They do outdoor recess except in bad weather. There is a rain garden in the front of the school and raised beds with vegetables in the back.  A volunteer group does a birding unit with the kids where they learn about our common local birds, then take a walking excursion to nearby park and tally the birds they see.
 
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I read recently that the average free American spends less time outside than a prisoner. And I fully believe it. I think one of the best things we can do is find ways to do nothing outside. This idea that there always has to be an activity or productive edge to whatever we do is harmful.
 
pollinator
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Probably. I know that a lot of kids adore coming to my house because all the things are outside and running wild is encouraged.
 
Jay Angler
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Hubby did the math (he's like that) and wrote this:

If people are spending 92% of their time "indoors" then they are spending 8% of their time "outdoors".  8% of 24 hours is about 2 hours a day.  That doesn't sound too far off for most people. The recommendation of 20 minutes a day outdoors is only 1.4% so their recommendation is one sixth of what they say people are already getting!  Something doesn’t add up about their math here...

I suspect that what doesn't add up, are that there are people like here on permies, or who work outdoor jobs, who get a whole lot more than the "minimum" which skews the statistic. I also suspect that the article may be trying to encourage the people who need it the most by setting a target they might see as realistic. However, he does make a point - the math seems like bits have been left out. Did they mean 92% not including sleep?
 
master steward
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We all know that permie people are not the norm!  At least I am not and from reading the replies I feel most will agree.

This is my take on why people don't get outdoors:

Before covid, we lived in a busy world.

Families mostly go to work, go to kids' activities, go to get something to eat, and then go home.  The next morning they start this cycle all over.

Weekends are usually kids' activities and church activities, and going out to eat.

After covid, more people get out even less. They were doing the self-quarantine thing. They work from home so no driving to work. They have food delivered. Activities were cancelled, etc.

Now, why are permies people different? Because they get outside to do gardening!
 
elle sagenev
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Have ya'll seen most suburban backyards now? Postage stamp would be too big for what they are doing now. Honestly, there is nowhere outside for most people to go. Besides it gets HOT with all that pavement around. Having 40 acres and building whatever we want means we have lots to do outside. More outside than in actually. Plus I do limit electronics for my kids so they're outside a lot.
 
Anita Martin
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Mk Neal wrote:
The public schools here have gotten much healthier the past decade.  They have better quality food (thanks Michelle Obama!), and my kids' school even has vegetarian option everyday. They do outdoor recess except in bad weather. There is a rain garden in the front of the school and raised beds with vegetables in the back.  A volunteer group does a birding unit with the kids where they learn about our common local birds, then take a walking excursion to nearby park and tally the birds they see.



It makes me happy to hear that schools around the world are changing their curriculums and their ways of teaching to get kids more connected with nature (although I suspect that this does not make up for all the casual day-to-day exposure to a diverse nature that we have lost decades ago).
Every little step counts!

And what you say about city life is certainly true. When I visited distant relatives in New York City (the example I stated in my other post was Maryland) we did a lot of walking downtown, and lots of people were walking on the streets. I guess that in the thirty+ years since then a lot of bikes have been added to the picture.
What is also true is that not all climates compare. We do have cold temperatures and snow for months in a row but not many days when it is too hot (over 90 grade Fahrenheit) to be outside, and if so, people go for a walk or do gardening in the early morning.

Other countries have different coping mechanisms. In Andalucia (Southern Spain) where my parents live houses have a patio in the middle of the house which provides shade almost all day, plus they have a little fountain and some plants and the difference to the hot sunny street is amazing.
Some of these patios have been declared Cultural World Heritage by the UNESCO, just take a look at these:
Patios of Cordoba


And of course they have siesta time! In the summer months people keep to the house in the hottest hours and start going out after sunset. I am always baffled as a German to see the streets packed full at midnight with families walking the streets complete with babies and grandmas, dining, chatting, looking, drinking wine.
Mild summer nights is something that I am missing here in Germany. After dark it almost always gets chilly (for me).

 
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Jay Angler wrote:Hubby did the math (he's like that) and wrote this:

If people are spending 92% of their time "indoors" then they are spending 8% of their time "outdoors".  8% of 24 hours is about 2 hours a day.  That doesn't sound too far off for most people. The recommendation of 20 minutes a day outdoors is only 1.4% so their recommendation is one sixth of what they say people are already getting!  Something doesn’t add up about their math here...

I suspect that what doesn't add up, are that there are people like here on permies, or who work outdoor jobs, who get a whole lot more than the "minimum" which skews the statistic. I also suspect that the article may be trying to encourage the people who need it the most by setting a target they might see as realistic. However, he does make a point - the math seems like bits have been left out. Did they mean 92% not including sleep?


The OP didn't give the details behind those numbers. I'd guess the 92% is a total number including weekends and holidays, while the 20 minute minimum is a recommendation for 'workdays' that are packed with indoor stuff.

I also didn't see an explanation of what's considered outdoors. Does it include zooming around in 'shiny metal boxes'?
 
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I fear humankind can be lucky not to have a stronger urge to go outside. It would be terribly crammed there, hard to relax. There are so many places that would have a severe problem if all people wanted to go outside at the same time. Not to speak of nature. Corona led to a increasing stress for wild animals here where I live because people go out for a walk instead of sitting in a restaurant or cinema.

At the same time, I am also sad about my kids spending most of their time inside. I try to move activities outdoors, sport, eating outside, playing board games, reading ... Just to get them more used to being outside, even if it is a bit too cold or hot, bright, wet, windy, boring or whatever.

And to be honest: If I wouldn't have to care for the garden, I would also spent almost all my time indoors. Not before I am outside with all that smell and sound and the air I realize how huch I have missed it. I could fall into a depression inside not knowing what's wrong with me.
 
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Many places in the U.S. parents are afraid to encourage their children to be outside. They are concerned that anyone passing by can and may report them for improper parenting and their children will be taken away from them. The cell phone has become a weapon of sorts which has caused much trouble.

Also negative peer pressure does push kids onto electronic devices more and more younger and younger and even a cell phone works better in a dark place.

Schools also push kids towards tablets and laptops instead of books and pens  paper and pencils which worked as well out under a tree as in a house.

Then added to these are the fears of sunlight, bugs, animals, darkness, bacteria, virus, fungus, allergies ....the list goes on and on.

But of course there are still those exceptions!! May we all share our delight in moving beyond all those forces to enjoy God's creation! No matter the age from newborn to those elderly folks who are at death's door there is comfort, simple pleasure and health boosting benefits in being able to go outside and even being able to see out.
 
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Well... My two cents here....
I'm not sure I trust that article because if that was so....
How come It's so difficult to buy  seedlings, seeds, soil, hoses, manure, etc...etc...?

It seems to me, that since last year people (well... most) turned to gardener wanna-be.
So, I would think that there are so many new to gardening people....they surely don't throw soil onto their indoor floors and just gotta be outdoors No?

 
John F Dean
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Interesting.  Yesterday, I had to make a trip to the Big City.  Even allowing for my time in my truck as being indoors...which was several hours, I spent, at most, 79% of my day indoors.  

 
Coydon Wallham
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Driving through the Northwoods of Wisconsin yesterday I saw a couple of Bill boards that read "Americans spend 83% of their time outdoors" and "92% of drivers read billboard signs", reminding me that 71% of all statistics are made up on the spot...
 
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Agreed that 71.4% of statistics are made up on the spot, but here's an important statistic that is actually based on a  large data set, and it has been ignored by the world at large. Avoiding the sun is as dangerous as smoking, in terms of life expectancy.

A study in Sweden comparing the health and mortality of  almost 30,000 women for 20 years found that sun avoidance is as dangerous as smoking. As I recall when I read about the study in detail a few years ago, they did not segregate sunscreen use and staying indoors; they counted both in the category of "sun avoidance."

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/261411556_Avoidance_of_sun_exposure_is_a_risk_factor_for_all-cause_mortality_Results_from_the_MISS_cohort

We found that all-cause mortality was inversely related to sun exposure habits. The mortality rate among avoiders of sun exposure was approximately two-fold higher compared to the highest sun exposure group, resulting in excess mortality with a population attributable risk of 3%.
Conclusion The results of this study provide observational evidence that avoiding sun exposure is a risk factor for all-cause mortality. Following sun exposure advice that is very restrictive in countries with low solar intensity might in fact be harmful to women's health.



https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26992108/

Nonsmokers who avoided sun exposure had a life expectancy similar to smokers in the highest sun exposure group, indicating that avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor for death of a similar magnitude as smoking. Compared to the highest sun exposure group, life expectancy of avoiders of sun exposure was reduced by 0.6-2.1 years.




 
Jay Angler
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Rebecca Norman posted:

Avoiding the sun is as dangerous as smoking, in terms of life expectancy.

I'm wondering how much of that is simply based on Vit D levels in the body, or other unknown factors? I have a friend who thinks our government recommended levels of Vit D are far lower than they should be for optimal health, and that people, particularly in northern countries, need to supplement it at much higher levels than most people do.

This leads to more questions: does taking it in the isolated "pill" version do as much as getting it from the sun?
Are our levels low because we used to get it from animal fat from animals that spent much of their days out in the sun rather than in climate controlled barns?
Is Vit D only part of the equation - does something about being out in the fresh air make a difference? Your quotes suggest not, as they suggest sunscreen users also have reduced life-spans if I'm reading it correctly. That said, are "sunscreens" more toxic than we think?

As I'm hitting retirement age, I'm more aware that, "I have to die of something." My mom died slowly of Alzheimer's, and I'd be happy to avoid that fate. My dad died way too  young of a fast killing cancer. It used to be that pneumonia would kill the elderly disproportionately, and that may return if our drugs to cure it can't out-pace it's ability to mutate. My Aunt died at 86 of a heart attack a few days after receiving a less pleasant diagnosis, so I figure she got it about right!  We seem to have a cultural fear of death, and I'm *really* wondering how we can pemaculture our way through that. Permaculture focusses on quality of "life" - for our plants, animals, ecosystems, communities etc. In a sense though, it also focusses on quality of "death" - cycling all things back into resources after they are dead or worn out. Sorry - this is a shift off topic and if people wish to discuss this concept, we can take it elsewhere - although dying outside under my apple tree would please me just fine when it's my turn to go! I'm in the process of building a hugel starting at the bottom of a hole Hubby dug for me to plant my lovely goose who just died. I want Marguerite to have a tree beside her that she can feed with what is left of her and it will be an apple tree because she adored apples.

 
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Jay Angler wrote: I'm wondering how much of that is simply based on Vit D levels in the body, or other unknown factors?



If I recall correctly (but it's years since I carefully read about that study) the researchers were careful to point out that they didn't know if it was solely due to vitamin D.

I'm sure vitamin D is part of it, but sunlight has other effects on us. Offhand, I can think of how it's well-known that exposure to sunlight can effect emotional state, circadian rhythm, and sleep quality. It seems likely that it has other effects that are less discussed or not yet known.
 
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