New statistics show that most Americans only spend about two and a half hours each day outdoors in some capacity. That means that a miniscule 10% of their day is spent getting helpful sunlight and breathing fresh air. It seems that people’s busy schedules keep them running from appointment to appointment, but never outside.
Many people know that it is important to get fresh air and sunlight, but up until recently, the medical community at large has yet to provide studies illustrating such results. Scientists at sleep labs have investigated the importance of our environment on our sleep schedules and many studies discuss the negative impacts of artificial light on our bodies; however, no organization has sought out the connection between many of these aspects and our mental and physical health.
The Mayo Clinic and a real estate company emphasizing wellness, Delos, have partnered to investigate the impact of indoor living on our lives. In pursuit of their goals, they created the Well Living Lab, which measures aspects of indoor space. Based in Rochester, Minnesota, it is capable of tracking these factors’ impact on an individual’s biological health.
The Lab largely consists of a variety of generic rooms, which can be configured in a variety of ways. These rooms are equipped with typical modern conveniences, like a video game system and television, and can be converted to create a large office, studio apartments, hotel rooms, and more options that may prove useful for research.
Each of these rooms is monitored by a broad range of sensors that analyze everything from the pressure on a bed at night to the amount of light coming in through the windows or the air quality. There are even cameras to monitor occupants’ every move. All of the sensors are virtually unidentifiable for participants in the lab, so that they may occupy the dwellings as naturally as possible.
A vast control center allows scientists to analyze, change, and continue studying data. As they learn from previous occupants, they can make small changes before testing the next occupants. They will also be able to report on data once it has been analyzed.
The Mayo Clinic is currently searching for individuals willing to participate in such an experiment. “Many people involved with Mayo see their mission as contributing to the furthering of medical science.” Dr. Brent Bauer, who is the medical director of the clinic, explains that many view Mayo as furthering the field of medical science through experiments such as this one. Many are interested in participating, and they are even offering Rochester residents money to live for days or weeks at a time within the lab.
The lab plans to start studies near the beginning of the next year, and they are hoping that the findings will be useful not only to medical professionals, but also other companies like Delos, who are interested in creating homes and corporate buildings that emphasize wellness. For companies like Delos, the lab could have a direct impact on future successes.
Scientists stressed that, although they appreciate financial backing from companies such as Delos, they are not letting any corporate sponsorship cloud their research. While there are corporations hoping to benefit from the Mayo Clinic’s studies, the studies are ultimately aimed at helping the medical industry.