How healthy is your house? Do people in it suffer from respiratory issues or other ailments? Our homes and lifestyles have changed tremendously in the past generation or so. Remember when . . .
- The front door was left open and the screen door could be heard slamming as children and their dog ran out of the house to play?
- The wood floors were swept with a natural bristled broom, and the wash was hung outside on the clothesline to dry?
- Kids spent hours outdoors riding bikes, exploring the neighborhood or building forts, skimming rocks across the pond, or swimming in the lake to stay cool?
- In the evening, the family gathered outside on the porch and watched the twinkling stars or the storms rolling in?
So what’s different today?
Although that lifestyle is still embraced by some, it is most likely limited to a select few living in rural, small town, or village settings. Over the last twenty years, we’ve acquired more technological possessions, and we’re spending more and more time indoors. In fact, the average child spends over seven hours each day indoors and as little as 30 minutes playing outside. Along with this sedentary lifestyle, obesity rates have risen, especially among children.
Additionally, modern houses are largely furnished with synthetic materials. We breathe in numerous chemicals and toxins from the carpets, paint, household products, and cleaning solutions in our homes. With our heating and air conditioning systems running, it becomes easier and easier to stay inside. As houses become more fortified, we are losing our vital connection to the natural world.
Is there a price to pay for being encapsulated in these modern comfort conveniences? What can we do to fix it? It’s important to assess our lifestyle to ensure that our homes become a haven for healthy living.
Turn Your House Into a Healthier Haven
- Bring the Outdoors In. 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. Spending time outside reduces stress, and increases our vitamin D levels, which strengthens bones and muscles, and enhances brain and immune function.
- Open Up! 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.
- New Windows? 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 crack open a window and enjoy the fresh air while keeping the flies, and other insects out of your home.
- 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 or furnace filters every two to three months. Install hospital-grade, allergen-eliminating AC filters to improve indoor air quality. Some companies even offer plans that will ship new AC filters directly to your home as often as you predetermine.
- Change the refrigerator filter as recommended. Clean mold from the magnetic sealing strips.
- Check carpets, padding, mattresses, closets, and walls for mold and mildew.
- An in-home air purifier is especially beneficial for those experiencing allergies, asthma, and COPD. But it’s most important to remove any source of in-home toxins first.
- Adopt A Pet! Interaction with animals/pets on a regular basis bolsters our health. “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.
- Keep your home clean to avoid attracting roaches and other pests. The Washington Post reported that “cockroaches can be potential triggers of asthma symptoms among children allergic to them.” Decomposing cockroach bodies and their excrement easily become airborne, and can be inhaled into the bronchial tubes.”
- Considering adding houseplants that help purify the air in your home.
With a few simple lifestyle tweaks and some easy household changes, you and your family can live and breathe happier and healthier.
Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Pearls of Garden Wisdom: Time-Saving Tips and Techniques from a Country Home, Pearls of Country Wisdom: Hints from a Small Town on Keeping Garden and Home, and Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. Tukua has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.