"When weather permitted, the front door was left open and the screen door could be heard slamming shut as children and their dog ran out of the house.
The wood floors were swept with a broom, and the freshly washed laundry was hung on the clothesline to dry.
In the afternoons and summer, kids spent hours outdoors riding bikes, exploring the neighborhood or building forts in a nearby forest, skimming rocks across the pond, squirting each other with the garden hose to cool off, or playing games in a park with friends."
Most of us would say that this lifestyle scenario dates at least two, three or more decades ago. So what’s different today?
Although the lifestyle depicted is still embraced by some, it is most likely limited to those living in rural, small town, or village settings. For the last twenty years, as society continues to acquire more technological possessions, we’re spending more and more time indoors. The average child spends over seven hours each day in front of an electronic screen, and as little as 30 minutes playing outside. Along with this sedentary lifestyle, obesity rates have risen, especially among children. Thus, it is important to assess our lifestyle to ensure that our homes become a haven for healthy living.
Modern houses are largely furnished with synthetic materials. We breathe in numerous chemicals, toxins and potential allergens from the carpets, paint, household products, and cleaning solutions in our homes. In the comfort of our heating and air conditioning systems, it becomes easier and easier to stay inside. Is there a price to pay for being encapsulated in these modern comfort conveniences? As houses become more fortified, we are losing our vital connection to the natural world. Spending time outside reduces stress, and increases our vitamin D levels, which strengthens bones and muscles, and enhances brain and immune function.
Is Your Home Allergy or Asthma Central?
If the residents of your home have reoccurring headaches, allergy, asthma, or other respiratory issues, it’s time to evaluate and reduce exposure to environmental irritants, (known as volatile organic compounds or VOCs). Check carpets, padding, mattresses, closets, and walls for mold and mildew. The presence of formaldehyde in carpet glue, and certain laminate flooring can cause breathing problems, burning sensations in the throat or eyes, and lead to serious illnesses, including cancer, as we read in USA Today and other recent news reports.
Household pests can cause illnesses too. The Washington Post reported that, “Cockroaches can be potential triggers of asthma symptoms among children allergic to them, says Stephen Teach, an emergency room physician at Children’s National Medical Center who also runs the asthma clinic. Decomposing cockroach bodies and their excrement easily become airborne, and can be inhaled into the bronchial tubes.”
More Ways to Turn Your House into a Healthy Haven
- Does your house transcend well from indoors to out? Some houses feel tight, closed and shut off from the outdoors. Establish convenient outdoor living and play spaces, such as a patio, picnic area, porch or yard swing, basketball hoop, fort, or garden, to encourage everyone outdoors to soak up the sunshine, play, and enjoy the fresh air.
- Periodically open a couple of windows to briefly allow fresh air to circulate the house. This is especially beneficial in winter when our houses are shut tight, and when cold and flu illnesses are making their way through the members of our household.
- If sliding glass doors and windows are difficult to open and close, spray bees wax furniture polish in the track. Bees wax cleans metal and wood tracks without leaving a greasy residue, and repels dust, unlike oily substances like WD40, which attracts and retains dust particles.
- When it’s time to replace exterior windows in your home, consider installing easy to open – casement crank windows. Modern versions are outfitted with screens, so you can crank open a window, and enjoy the fresh air while keeping the flies, and other insects out of your home.
- When changing your flooring, to reduce allergens in the home, opt for easy to clean, natural wood or tile products, instead of carpet.
- Use a water purification system, especially if you are drinking municipal water. Even if you have natural spring water or well water, have it tested to see what contaminants need to be removed. Some filtering systems don’t remove all the toxins.
- Change air conditioning filters every two to three months. Install hospital grade, allergen eliminating AC filters to improve indoor air quality. To keep filter changing on schedule, programs such as the Simple Filter Plan ship new AC filters directly to your home as often as you predetermine.
- To remove pollen and other allergens when cleaning your home, use allergen eliminating vacuum cleaner filters.
- Change the refrigerator filter as recommended.
- A HEPA air purifier is especially beneficial for those experiencing allergies, asthma, and COPD.
- Interaction with animals/pets on a regular basis bolsters our health. The Pet Care Trust, a nonprofit public foundation which provides the Pets in the Classroom Program states, “Studies show that children from families with pets are better equipped to fight off infection than kids from non-pet households, showing significantly higher levels of immune system performance. When school attendance records were compared side by side, researchers discovered that kids with pets averaged more days at school every year than their pet-free counterparts.”
- Paper bags and cardboard boxes can harbor roach eggs. Store these in the garage instead of the house to avoid roach infestation.
About the Author:
Deborah Tukua is the editor of Journey to Natural Living and the author of the healthy fresh from the blender recipe book, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She is a freelance writer for the Farmers' Almanac and Chiropractic Economics magazine and author of the book, Marketing Strategies for Chiropractic Success. Check out Lowell and Deborah's super sturdy and handsome DIY Gardening Potting Bench Plans.