From 0 to 1000 Hours Outdoors


"I am a completely indoors person. I can't actually remember the last time I was in a natural setting outside of the city." This occurred to me in 2017 as more of a note of interest, rather than a thought of alarm. At the time I was living in downtown Chicago, working 60+ hour weeks (standard), and traveling frequently (at times weekly, cross country) for work. Days were spent traveling through airports, to taxis, to work sites, to hotels. Exercise (when I could prioritize it), took place in hotel gyms, and on a great day, as a short walk to a restaurant close to work for dinner or a tea break. Weekends consisted of (work), laundry, shopping for supplies (work clothes and minimal groceries - did I mention I never ONCE turned on the oven in my apartment), phoning far away family and friends, and catching up on the odd BBC murder mystery series (and work). At times, I would think "how lovely would it be to book a weekend away somewhere there are more trees - a forest somewhere perhaps."


This is not unusual. Many adults across North America prioritize work and squeeze in exercise (likely indoors in a Northern climate) when possible. We are all familiar with the statistics. Prior to the pandemic, averages of screen time (assumed mostly indoors), for adults averaged close to 11 hours per day, and 3+ hours for children (many sources). Research post March 2020 estimates that this has at least doubled in many cases for children (and likely increased for adults where possible to squeeze in more).


Given this, conservative estimates for screen time in 2021 per year would be well over 2000 hours per year for children 0-5 years.

Yet, like me in 2017, this, for many has become normal. If not normal, and in many cases acknowledged as worrying, at least necessary to support the kind of life we have evolved into (to pay education loans, mortgage, car insurance, utility bills, kids sports, etc., etc., etc.)