Nature deficit disorder: Is staying indoors harming your health?

Evolving technology is making everyday life for most Americans more fast-paced than ever – which can mean high stress levels and less time spent outside.’s Anna Kooiman recently sat down with Stephanie Wear of The Nature Conservancy to talk about a new report that links poor health and too much time indoors.

The Nature Conservancy recently teamed up with Women’s Health magazine to poll women about their time spent outside. Results showed that although the vast majority of women know that being outdoors is good for their health, only 25 percent go outside to try and relieve stress. The poll also showed that only 40 percent of women spend time outside at least 1-2 days per week.

“Nature deficit disorder is a term coined by Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle, talking about how more and more people are getting disconnected from nature,” Wear said. “So we traditionally over the last few million years were very connected to nature. Now in the last thousand years, we've become more modern, we've been living indoors, we are spending time in the last few decades with a lot of technology and cities.”

Wear said she believes nature deficit disorder is a public health issue, and negative health effects include a higher risk for obesity, cancer, heart disease, anxiety and depression.

The survey found the number one obstacle to getting outside is the weather-too hot, cold or rainy. Coming in a close second: a busy lifestyle with not enough time to go outdoors.

The good news? Even a short amount of time spent outside can have a positive effect on your body.

“What they are finding is when you go outside in nature, your stress hormones go down, that nasty death hormone cortisol, your blood pressure goes down, your resting heart rate goes down, you feel better,” she said. “ There are immediate effects. Even just 15 minutes outside in nature is going to bring you some major health benefits.”

During the month of April, The Nature Conservancy and Women’s Health partnered for the #GetOutside Campaign. “We are doing 30 tweets in 30 days and every day we are suggesting ideas of how you can get outside and integrate nature into your life. The hashtag is #GetOutside,” Wear said.

For more information and tips to get active outdoors, visit