An Indoor Species?

Photo courtesy of Lancaster Online

By Nancy Black

I heard it on a radio ad. And it was for an outdoor sporting goods company. But they called Americans the first “indoor species.” An indoor species?

Yes. I looked it up. People spend 95 percent of their time inside, the REI YouTube video says. That adds up to about 70 plus years spent inside. The recreation equipment company is attempting to encourage humans to spend more time outside.

Try telling that to a Texan in the winter! We are hopelessly helpless when it comes to handling any type of cold weather occurrence. We’re fine when it’s 100 degrees and sunny outside. But drop a thimble full of water on the roads when it’s 40 degrees or lower and everyone freaks out.  

I am a born and raised Dallasite and, like most others of my species, I retreat inside when it is cold and rainy outside. But I was shocked this past Wednesday when my teenager’s dentist called us at 9 a.m. to reschedule our appointment for that day because of “inclement weather.” 

Had the dentist moved his office to a different city? Because I could see it was raining outside as I spoke to them on the phone, but it was nothing torrential. No. They hadn’t moved. They were just erring on the side of caution.

I wonder how loud the people in all those northern states who are buried in snow would laugh if they heard about our dentist cancelling because of cold rain.

Conservationist Andy Kerr points out some startling facts about the dangers of being an indoor species:

• “Today, kids spend less time outside than prison inmates, with the average child playing freely outside for just four to seven minutes a day.”

• “Lack of time spent outdoors is linked to issues like anxiety, childhood obesity, academic underperformance and even bullying.”

• “Office workers who spend four or more hours sitting per day more than double their risk of heart disease, and they face a 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause.”

• “Studies show that when people are suffering from mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, interacting with nature can help them control their symptoms or even recover, when time outside is ‘prescribed’ along with conventional medication.”

I also wondered if there were any other “indoor species.” Other than plants, there aren’t. Humans are the only ones who choose to stay inside instead of venturing outside and into nature. 

Dallas is filled with a wonderful trail system for biking, hiking or walking and lots of green space, including our very own White Rock Lake. Let’s make a group resolution to get our indoor specimen selves outside this year! That is, if it’s above 40 and not raining …