August 2, 2019 12:00 PM PT

Time Spent Outdoors Statistics

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More than 90% of your time is spent indoors, usually with nature just a few feet away. Should you be spending more time outside? Read on to find out what you may be missing.

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The average American spends only 7% of their time outdoors. Worldwide, most people spend as much as 87% of their time indoors and 6% in a car or other automobile.

Kids today only spend an average of 4–7 minutes outdoors while spending an average of 7½ hours on electronics.

Surprised? Keep reading to learn more.

How Much Time Should Be Spent Outside

How much time should adults spend outside?
Spending 15–20 minutes outdoors a few times a week can help you soak up enough Vitamin D to improve bone strength, stabilize your mood, and protect against cancer.

How long should preschoolers be outside each day?
Preschoolers should have at least 90 to 120 minutes per day of physical activity. That includes being outdoors at least twice a day.

How long should school-aged kids be outside each day?
Kids need a minimum of three hours of unstructured outdoor play, according to Angela Hascom, a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of TimberNook.

Why should kids play outside?
The benefits of allowing kids to play outdoors freely include:

  • Decreases the risk of obesity
  • Enhances creativity
  • Increased academic abilities
  • Increased emotional stability

Why should adults be outside?
Even for adults, a little outdoor time is worthwhile. The benefits include:

  • Decreased risk of obesity
  • Reduces anxiety and depression
  • Builds a stronger immune system

Health experts say that nature deficit disorder is responsible for the negative feelings that occur as a result of being inside too much. Spending just a few minutes outside can help stimulate happy feelings in your brain. While nature deficit disorder greatly affects children, adults are at risk too.

Technology Usage

In today's society, our sedentary lifestyle, as well as an over-reliance on electronics and social media, greatly limit the amount of time we spend outdoors.

How much time do adults spend on their phones?
American adults spend as much as 5 hours per day on their smartphones. This is an increase of 20% from just a few years ago.

How much time do kids spend on their electronics?
Kids ages 8 to 12 years old spend as much as 6 hours of their day on some electronics, including smartphones, video games, computer screens, and TV.

How much time do teenagers spend on their electronics?
Teens spend as much as 9 hours of their day on electronics. This includes time to stream videos and listen to music, as well as play games and use apps.

How much time is spent on social media?
The average person spends a total of 116 minutes per day on social media sites, such as:

  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Snapchat
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

This equates to about five years of the average person's life.

How many people use social media every day?
86% of people use social media at least once per day. 72% of people check or use social media several times per day.

Stress and Being Outdoors

Roughly 7 out of 10 adults say that they have some type of stress on a daily basis, according to a study done by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Read on to learn the ways that being outside can lower our stress levels.

What impact does being outdoors have on stress?
Spending time in nature reduces your brain's fatigue and stress, according to Irina Wen, a clinical psychologist at NYU Langone Medical Center. This can help reduce the risk of depression and anxiety.

How does recess help kids de-stress?
Having time for unstructured play can help increase serotonin, the happy chemical in our brains. This "happy time" can help improve their behavior, focus more, and increase productivity in class.

Does going outside help anxiety?
Taking a walk and enjoying nature can help decrease anxiety levels. It can help lower the negative feelings in the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that causes anxious feelings.

Does being outdoors help your immune system?
Going outside, especially in winter months, can help you escape indoor pollution such as germs and bacteria. This can help strengthen your immune system and help you stay healthier.

Is indoor or outdoor pollution worse?
Indoor air pollutants are often 2–5 times greater than those you'd encounter outdoors. Because the average person spends almost 90% of their time indoors, the risks of illness and even death increase.

Bottom Line

Spending time outside is extremely beneficial and most kids—and adults—aren't doing it enough. Whether you suffer from stress, anxiety, or depression, spending more time outdoors can help increase your overall health.

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