Complaining about “being locked up inside” during the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting restrictions on free movement is the talk of the hour as the whole world is weathering the outbreak by staying in.
But let it be known that some people – for example residents of the U.S. – were not known to venture outside much even while they were still free to do so. According to a diary study (which means that people taking part in the survey wrote down what they did every day in great detail), Americans spend only 8 percent of their life outside on average.
The study was carried out by the EPA to find out how much people were exposed to pollutants (which are more common indoors). It dates back to 2001 but is still the most widely citied – and pretty much only available – study on the topic. Later surveys, for example this one by Velux, simply asked people how much time they spend outdoors – only to find them seriously overestimating that measure.
In fact, during three quarters of their lives, Americans can be found inside at residences or at the office/factory, 13 percent of their time is spent at other indoor locations and 5.5 percent in vehicles. The survey did not specify which the workplace of a person was, so working could have taken place at any location for survey participants.