The Benefits of Being Outside (and How to Bring Them Indoors)

There’s no nice way to put this, but humans spend way too much time indoors—and it shows. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 87% of an average American’s life is spent indoors, with an additional 6% spend in enclosed vehicles. In total, 93% of their time is spent inside. For a study from 2001, those numbers are shocking! With cellphone and social media use now mainstream, can you imagine how high the number is today?


Fortunately, this way of life can be changed by simply going outside. Let’s take a look at some of the amazing health benefits you can receive by taking a break from the indoors and adopting an outdoor-focused lifestyle!


outdoor benefits and bringing them inside

Better Air Quality


We need air to live. Not just any air, but clean (and chemical-free) air. Being enclosed in an office for 8 hours a day is not ideal for our long-term health. It’s even worse when buildings don’t have proper ventilation and purification systems in place. Does inhaling your coworker’s air sound sanitary to you? Research shows that indoor air quality is the leading cause of allergies, airway infections, and certain types of cancer.


In contrast, breathing air from nature can help improve many aspects of health. It can help clean your lungs, make you feel happier, and optimize your heart rate thanks to fewer airborne chemicals. One survey found that 90% of participants experienced increased senses of aliveness and energy while being outdoors. The next time you feel stressed or tired from staying indoors, consider heading outside for some fresh air!


better outdoor air quality


Improved Physical Activity


A well-balanced lifestyle requires some form of physical activity. It doesn’t have to be anything specific. As long as you’re moving your body for approximately 150 mins per week, you are doing just fine. One of the most amazing things about doing physical activity outside is the endless options to choose from. Here’s are some activities the Origen team really enjoys:

  • Cycling

  • Hiking

  • Rock climbing

  • Swimming

  • Team sports

  • Walking

  • Yoga


In addition to improving your strength and cardiovascular health, physical activity offers some other meaningful benefits. A study from the University of Essex described physical activity in nature as a form of natural medicine. The researchers found that the presence of nature changed a person's physiological function. This included stress reduction, restoring mental fatigue, improved mood and self-esteem and perceived health. What would you choose, a crowded gym or a wilderness adventure? We know our answer.


Improved physical activity outdoors


Boost Creativity


Creative thinking can come easily to some, while others need certain types of mental stimulation to turn on that lightbulb of theirs. Being inside all day can create a mental blockage that hinders the flow of creativity. Nature, on the other hand, can help influence creativity when you need it most. According to the Journal of Environmental Psychology, scientists have found that attention restoration theory (ART) and mind-wandering can potentially boost creativity in individuals. The biophilic hypothesis believes that the presence of natural elements increases creativity by stimulating the brain. We certainly feel a lot more inspired sitting out in the woods than in a stuffy office!


Boost creativity when outside

Improved Immune Health


Getting soil on your hands might seem like a bad thing, but it’s quite the opposite. In the early stages of life, physically touching soil is great for your body as it trains your body to become immune to certain strains of bacteria in the environment. A study from the University of Bristol analyzed a strain of bacteria found in soil. The results showed that breathing near forests or gardens helped to reduce inflammation in the immune system, as well as decrease levels of depression. The study also discovered that exposure to soil bacteria increased levels of serotonin (the chemical related to happiness) in the brain. Don't be afraid to get down and dirty with nature the next time you head outside.


Immune health from outside

How to Bring Nature Indoors


Nature plays a significant role in our physical and mental wellbeing. As you've read, the presence of natural elements can make us happier, healthier, and more productive. Now, most importantly, how do you bring nature inside your home or workspace? You obviously can't replace your floors with soil and trees (though, that would be pretty cool!). However, you can do so by other means that are just as effective. Here are some recommendations that we use in our office space!


Incorporate a Theme


For your building to feel like the great outdoors, it needs to have the right theme. Let's say you want to create a forest theme in your building. To do this, you need to consider the five human senses. How will it smell, feel, sound, taste, and look?


The smell of a building can be altered in various ways. Some options include bringing in essential oils, air fresheners, or flowers. The feeling of nature could be brought in by getting wooden desks and chairs made from natural fabrics such as cotton or linen. For the sound, you could turn on a playlist of bird songs or a crashing ocean to create a peaceful atmosphere. Taste can be adapted by buying healthy whole foods for workplace snacks, such as fruits, vegetables, puffed rice crackers and hummus.


Lastly is the look. The proper decor can make or break your theme. For a forest theme, choose imagery of trees, wildlife, flowing water, and plants for your wallpaper. Nature-based imagery has been shown to reduce anxiety in those who do not have direct access to nature. For a more simplistic take, natural hues of blue, green, beige and sand can make a space more lively.


Outdoor theme in workplace

Open Your Windows


Without adequate ventilation, the indoor air quality (IAQ) of your building drops substantially when exposed to pollutants. The Environmental Protection Agency states that your body can experience the negative health effects of poor IAQ almost immediately. Short-term side effects include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Long-term effects include respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer.


A simple solution to restoring balance in your environment is by opening your windows. Facilitating airflow into your building can help relieve many of the unappealing side-effects of stagnant air.


Want to take your business’s air quality to the next level? Check out our sister company, Origen Air, to learn more about their smart, living air purifiers by clicking here.


Bring Lots of Plants


Plants are always an easy fix when trying to brighten up a space. They're green, they’re beautiful, and they bring life to any indoor environment. While these plants can’t clean your air at a rate to be useful, Origen Air's Golden Pothos Ivy certainly can! Check out how it works by clicking here.


One of the benefits of bringing plants inside is its effects on your mental health. Research shows that they can reduce your physiological and psychological stress. Interacting with indoor plants promotes a sense of comfort and relaxation. At the Origen office, we’ve got one for nearly every desk - here's a list of our favourites:


  • Golden pothos ivy

  • Peace lily

  • Snake plant

  • Spider plant

  • Swiss cheese plant

  • Weeping fig


Our all-time favourite plant-based air purification is the SENTINEL. It uses genetically-enhanced plants to purify the air in a unique and beautiful way. Check it out here.


Origen air sentinel air purifier

Use Probiotics


Although it’s invisible to the human eye, the microbiome is a big part of what makes the outdoors so good for us. Nature is crawling with all kinds of good bacteria that play a key role in the cycle of life. Our bodies, too, are full of bacteria that help us with digestion, immunity and many other necessary bodily functions. Unfortunately, due to constant cleaning and disinfecting, our indoor spaces become a barren bacterial wasteland.


Luckily, probiotics can restore your environment with all those bacterial benefits. The Origen probiotic solution is safe, non-toxic, and good for all surfaces. The probiotics remain active on surfaces for 3-5 days after application. They work to continually reduce the presence of bacterial pathogens, remove biofilms, and eliminate odours. By removing biofilm and surface contamination issues within indoor spaces, our probiotics deploy a proactive barrier of defence against microscopic threats to human health and well-being. The power of nature is awesome, right?


Protect your building now and book a free discovery session!


Probiotic cleaner indoor workspace


Bring Balance to Your Indoor Environment


At Origen, we’re all about delivering nature indoors. Like the Great Outdoors, your building should feel healthy and balanced. That's why we've put together a free e-book with our top 10 tips to help keep your staff, customers, and stakeholders healthier over time. Use these tactics to increase the wellness, prosperity and peace of mind of all those who enter your space.


Click here to download our FREE e-book


Clean and healthy office tips

Written by: Zach Zachariou



Sources:


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  • Gladwell, V.F., Brown, D.K., Wood, C. et al. (2013). The great outdoors: how a green exercise environment can benefit all. Extrem Physiol Med 2, 3. https://doi.org/10.1186/2046-7648-2-3


  • Introduction to Indoor Air Quality. (2020, August 14). Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/introduction-indoor-air-quality


  • KLEPEIS, N., NELSON, W., OTT, W. et al. The National Human Activity Pattern Survey (NHAPS): a resource for assessing exposure to environmental pollutants. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 11, 231–252 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.jea.7500165


  • Lee, M. S., Lee, J., Park, B. J., & Miyazaki, Y. (2015). Interaction with indoor plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity in young adults: a randomized crossover study. Journal of physiological anthropology, 34(1), 21. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40101-015-0060-8


  • Lowry, C., Hollis, J., De Vries, A., Pan, B., Brunet, L., Hunt, J., . . . Lightman, S. (2007, May 11). Identification of an immune-responsive mesolimbocortical serotonergic system: Potential role in regulation of emotional behavior. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1868963/


  • Nguyen, J., & Brymer, E. (2018). Nature-Based Guided Imagery as an Intervention for State Anxiety. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 1858. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01858


  • Richard M. Ryan; Netta Weinstein; Jessey Bernstein; Kirk Warren Brown; Louis Mistretta; Marylène Gagné. (2010). Vitalizing effects of being outdoors and in nature. Journal of Environmental Psychology, ISSN: 0272-4944, Vol: 30, Issue: 2, Page: 159-168. https://www.academia.edu/6083628/Vitalizing_effects_of_being_outdoors_and_in_nature


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  • Williams K.J.H., Lee K.E., Hartig T. et al. (2018). Conceptualizing creativity benefits of nature experience: Attention restoration and mind wandering as complementary processes. Journal of Environmental Psychology, ISSN: 0272-4944, Vol: 59, Page: 36-45. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2018.08.005


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