For many of us, the concept of the ‘olden days’ include a lifestyle where people spent much more time outside than we do today. Work and play was more often outdoors, than in. Is it just a coincidence that over time, our typical house sizes have been increasing, while the average amount of time we spend inside, is also increasing?
“The finding that emerges is that we are basically an indoor species.” “In a modern society, total time outdoors is the most insignificant part of the day, often so small that it barely shows up in the total.”
And, while we are spending more time inside, there also seems to be a growing desire to be outdoors – or at least, connecting our indoor living spaces, to the outdoors.
One doesn’t have to search long on the internet to find articles encouraging us to spend more time outside – and to take our children outside more. Consider some of the developing trends in residential architecture: indoor/outdoor spaces, outdoor kitchens, elaborate patio furniture suites, ever-larger barbeques, bigger decks, pergolas, etc.
The benefits of being outside, or at least being exposed to the outdoors, is a growing topic of study – especially for children. Lower obesity rates, better eyesight and all round better health, resulting from increased Vitamin D, are some of the ways the body benefits. Other studies suggest benefits to the mind as well; students have improved critical thinking skills, perform better on standardized tests and ADHD symptoms may be effectively reduced. The positive impact of the outdoors can even be experienced at a spiritual level. Stress levels are reduced just by seeing green space. There are some correlations suggesting that time spent in nature promotes social interaction and community cohesiveness.
Adults benefit as well, with exposure to the outside: better sleep, reduced health risks from indoor air pollutants, and increased psychological health. Even the sights, smells and sounds of the natural world can benefit one’s well-being. At a profound level, we belong in nature, and the sensory input from nature helps put us in a better state of balance.
On the flip side, exposure to the outdoors comes with exposure to unpleasant things. How often have you looked out the window and remarked about how gorgeous the weather is, only to go outside to be annoyed by the gusting wind? And its so lovely to sit outside on the patio – until the flies, wasps and mosquitoes drive you and your guests indoors. Of course, even if the bugs weren’t bugging you, wouldn’t it be more comfortable on the deck if you didn’t feel like you were in a fishbowl, exposed to glances of your neighbours? Then, there is the greatest risk to being outdoors – sun exposure.
It’s become common knowledge that the ultraviolet radiation that comes along with sunlight has damaging affects on the human body. Some sun is good, for the production of Vitamin D, for example, but it takes less time than most people think for exposure to create problems. Short term damage occurs in the form of sunburn. Long term exposure contributes to early wrinkles, leathering of the skin, as well as potentially serious disease. Skin cancer can be localized, and it can spread to other organs.
It’s not just our bodies that can suffer from exposure to the sun. Building and furniture materials are impacted as well. Leather can fade and dry. Fabric, especially that designed for indoors, is very prone to fading and bleaching. Wood dries, cracks, and fades. Depending on the wood, it can also darken.
At Solaris, we want to help you maximize your enjoyment of what the outdoors has to offer, while protecting you and your belongings, from damage. We provide a wide variety of awnings and screens to keep bugs, wind, sun and prying eyes at bay. Whether you are protecting the inside of your home, or creating a safe and enjoyable outdoor space, we have the solution for you.