Fresh Air Is Critical For Your Health, By Matthew Romans
Posted November 29, 2020 by Matthew Romans
We are in late November, and based on the temperature outside when I leave for work in the morning, I'd say that cooler weather is finally upon us. It's been a fairly mild fall, which has probably encouraged people to pursue outdoor activities, but there is no reason that should stop simply because the temperature is dropping. Humans were not designed to be cooped up indoors and sedentary all day; our ancestors spent much of their time outdoors in pursuit of food and other life necessities. Regardless of what season we happen to be in, regular exposure to sunlight and fresh air is something that your body needs.
Many people misunderstand why flu rates tend to increase in the winter months. It's not because the colder weather makes you more susceptible, it's because we tend to spend less time outdoors during those months and more time in close quarters with family members (and others) while breathing in recycled air. Most of us do not work outdoors the majority of the time. We tend to spend our working hours indoors at a desk or on an electronic device. Just a few minutes outside can be reinvigorating and refreshing, and will give you a sense of calm. Try doing this a few times throughout your workday.
I recently read an article on the Long Island Weight Loss Institute website that discussed many health benefits of regular exposure to fresh air. One benefit is that it helps to clear your lungs, as you are breathing in air with a greater concentration of oxygen, compared to indoor air. Another benefit is that you will have more energy and mental focus, due to improved circulation. Have you ever wondered why you often feel a renewed sense of purpose and less fatigued after being in the sun for a little while? This explains why. Fresh air and sunshine can lower your blood pressure and resting heart rate, again due to breathing in a greater amount of oxygen. A fourth benefit is that taking in fresh air can help you heal faster from injury and illness. Every cell in your body requires oxygen, plus sunshine causes your body to produce the Vitamin D that is essential for your immune system. Lastly, exposure to fresh air can improve digestion due to improved blood flow.
I don't want to dive too deeply into the political realm, but the mandate that the establishment implemented during the spring Covid wave was precisely the wrong strategy for our psychological and physical health. Forcing people to stay isolated indoors and without exposure to fresh air and sunlight contributed to a spike in rates of depression, anxiety, suicide, domestic abuse, and substance abuse, not to mention the closure of businesses and cratering of the economy. Abroad, countries that did not impose lockdowns, such as Sweden and Brazil, ended up with lower death rates than neighboring countries that used more draconian measures. In my opinion, a more sensible approach would have been to isolate the people who were truly ill or had the risk factors that made them the most susceptible to the virus rather than forcing everyone behind closed doors. People should have been allowed outdoors to get fresh air and sunshine, and instead of hoping for a vaccine (which may or may not be safe and effective), Americans (and those worldwide) should have been encouraged to supplement with Vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, and Vitamin C in order to optimize immune function. Mid-March, when the sun angle in the Northern Hemisphere is such that it enables your body to produce Vitamin D from sunlight exposure would have been the perfect time to recommend spending time outdoors. Remember, this virus has a survival rate of over 99 percent.
Being outside at all times of year, even for just a few minutes at a time, can pay big dividends in your physical and psychological health. Find any reason to breathe in some fresh air and let the sun shine on your face. Go outside and walk around the parking lot while making a phone call. Play games with your kids, take your dog for a walk, or walk to the convenience store up the street instead of driving. Going for a hike in chilly weather can be just as invigorating as during the spring or summer. Humans don't usually expose their bodies to wide temperature gradients; a little cold now and then can be good for you. Any excuse is a good excuse.