Wellness Within Your Walls® (WWYW) is an internationally recognized educational program developed to achieve a high level of wellness in residential construction by applying simple behavioral strategies
By JILLIAN PRITCHARD COOKE
WWYW serves as the bridge between the home buyer and the builder, architect, designer, and manufacturer with a focus on providing education and certification programs to support industry professionals in designing and building healthier homes. Their holistic approach to wellness includes selecting building materials and home furnishings that adhere to the 10-step approach and implementing maintenance and lifestyle strategies to ensure continued health and wellness in the home.
Recent scientific evidence indicates that air within homes can be significantly more polluted and harmful than outdoor air. Many people spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors. Indoor air quality (IAQ) is especially important for at-risk groups such as the young, elderly, and chronically ill. Analysis of indoor air and proper design of ventilation systems – with consideration given to available technology, climate zones and naturally-occurring toxins – improves IAQ. A number of options exist including drywall that purifies the air, whole-home air purification systems and even a well-placed house plant can result in cleaner air.
Hydration is paramount to human health. The water we consume plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy body and mind. Over 300 chemicals of concern have been identified in municipal tap water. Analyzing water for contaminants – through a consultant, local extension office, or public interest group database – is essential. Equally important is selecting the proper whole-home or personal water purification system to remove undesirable chemicals, biological contaminants, suspended solids and gases.
Exposure to natural light provides the body with Vitamin D, lifts moods, improves concentration, aids sleep, reduces signs of dementia and improves overall health. Our bodies rely on the daily cycle of natural light to synchronize circadian rhythms. Designing homes to capture and optimize natural light maximizes health while delivering energy-saving benefits. In the northern hemisphere, south facing rooms receive the most sunlight; rooms should be positioned to the sun’s rotation. Artificial light should be considered after natural exposure has been maximized.
Within interior spaces, toxins off-gas, leak, and absorb into other materials. Analysis of chemical presence in home products can determine the level of contamination and potential impact on occupant health. Question what goes into a product and whether a non-toxic alternative is available. To limit health hazards, it is important to remove unnecessary chemicals and properly contain paints, stains and adhesives as well as lawn care, pest control and cleaning products.
Proper care of our bodies through physical activity and exercise is vital. Community amenities and zones in the home focusing on recreation and fitness motivate residents to improve flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength and tone. Creating specific wellness goals in a community of like-minded people fosters lasting lifestyle changes. Large green spaces, jogging and bicycle trails promote connection to nature and neighbor.
The average American generates 4.4 pounds of trash daily. We can reduce consumption by choice and by design, including energy-efficient appliances and smart-technology systems. Choosing a glass over a plastic bottle reduces the amount of plastic added to landfills, especially important when considering that an estimated 2.2 billion water bottles are thrown away in the U.S. annually. Mindfulness of product lifecycles and adopting a “recycle, reuse and reinvent” approach leads to more sustainable choices and challenges the throw-away mentality.
Statistics show that approximately 1 in 6 American adults experiences mental illness in a given year. Positive, safe and healthy home environments are important elements in promoting a sense of well-being. By mitigating common health hazards, such as mold and chemical exposure, we lessen the stress resulting from unhealthy living conditions. We can also make changes as simple as lightening wall color and opening windows. In addition, humans require social interaction and a sense of community to thrive. Nurturing relationships found in holistically-focused communities can positively impact mental wellness.
Reflecting upon core values and beliefs gives purpose to our lives and fosters hope and resiliency. While the meaning of spirituality is very personal, people with high levels of spiritual connectedness enjoy greater physical, social, and emotional health. Creating spaces in the home where the homeowner can unplug, read, meditate, and rest supports the expression of personal spirituality.
Embracing and understanding the growing, processing, storing, and preparation of food furthers healthier eating habits. Advanced technology and energy-efficient appliances that incorporate smart-home technology contribute to healthier kitchens, as does reducing contaminants by choosing products such as formaldehyde-free cabinets and wool hood vent filters. Access to local, fresh, organic ingredients allows us to provision for a healthier life, connecting the dots between what we eat and our health.
Contemplating health and wellness protocols is essential. A consensus of scientific research shows that chronic diseases are due primarily to environmental factors. Adapting behavioral strategies to reduce toxic exposure within the home while also engaging in positive lifestyle habits helps to maintain health and wellness long-term, thus contributing to increased quality of life.
Learn how to make a difference in your homeowners’ lives by encouraging the healthiest building protocols, products and services. Join WWYW’s 2018 inaugural class of certified professionals. wellnesswithinyourwalls.com
Jillian Pritchard Cooke is the founder of Wellness Within Your Walls, which provides affordable, accountable, achievable solutions to beautiful, non-toxic interior environments. To learn more about WWYW, visit wellnesswithinyourwalls.com