How air conditioning actually affects your body
When we find ourselves in an air-conditioned area, we feel some artificial silence that is reduced down to the hum of the air conditioning equipment and everything around us seems isolated from nature. And then all this silence gathers and enters a point between our eyes. It’s as if we are meditating, expect we’re not!
Contrary to what most people think, air conditioning equipment in apartments and offices does not work by taking and cooling fresh air from the outside and then circulating it inside the room, but instead taking and circulating the same old air inside the room over and over the entire time. Viruses from colds, bacteria from not well-ventilated restrooms, dust, and other pollutants circulate within the area through the same old air that we breath almost all day at work, at home, and in the car. Especially in hospitals!
Now, large industrial buildings, skyscrapers, and shopping malls do use the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) systems located at the top of the building instead of the small units located on each floor of the building, but they are an exception to the rule. Throughout the entire world, almost no air conditioning systems bring in fresh air because it is inefficient and costly to bring in and cool the air from the outside.
And even though these large systems bring in some air from the outside, it is usually a minimal amount. The standard is half a cubic meter per minute and since these buildings are usually crowded with people and cramped with a number of offices in order to increase the area of space that can be used and rented, it results in poor ventilation that leads to the sick building syndrome.
The sick building syndrome is a term used to describe a situation where occupants of a building experience acute health related problems such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, eye, nose, or throat irritation, dry cough, dry or itching skin, difficulty in concentration, fatigue, sensitivity to odors, allergies, cold, flu-like symptoms, and increased incidence of asthma attacks which seem to be linked directly to the time spent in a poorly ventilated building with little or no fresh air.
Air-conditioned air is too dry and causes many people to have problems with dry skin, especially those who already have problems with their skin. Furthermore, when the air-conditioned air in a room is cold, the body begins to shiver from cold. When the body starts to shiver from cold, it narrows the blood vessels in the nose and neck to preserve the remaining internal body heat that is lost during the inhalation of cold air. When the blood circulation decreases, then the circulation of oxygen and our white blood cells that fight against infections and other contaminants decreases as well. If there is not enough circulation of oxygen and white blood cells, then everyone in the room can get sick, tired, and get headaches more easily.
Athletes, remember that a cold body consumes more calories in order to produce heat so a shivering body and freezing in an air-conditioned room consumes energy! Additionally, getting used to air-conditioned air significantly reduces you tolerance of heat which means that you become dependent on air conditioning and have a harder time dealing with heat and outdoor air.
- Instead of air conditioning
- keep the windows open the entire time in order to enable a continuous flow of fresh air
- use a fan
- use blinds and curtains
- If you wish to continue using air conditioning
- maintain the temperature between 23 and 25 Celsius
- regularly open the windows in order to let fresh air in
Remember that sweating is a natural thing and it’s quite healthy to sweat. Sweating maintains a proper body temperature and gets rid of toxins, which in turn strengthens our immune system. And if you decide to stop using or reduce the usage of air conditioning or decide to convince your colleagues at work to reduce the usage of air conditioning, know that the body is very intelligent and that it can get used to it, strengthen, and return to a naturally strong and tolerane state only after a couple of weeks.