In the modern, highly digital world, it can be easy for seniors to feel disconnected from the natural world. For many seniors, the time spent outside is limited to a short walk from the car to the supermarket, or the trip to the mailbox. But getting outdoors is a great way to relax and soak in peace from the natural beauty that surrounds us. Best of all, there are real benefits to enjoying the outdoors, especially for seniors.
Research suggests that spending time in nature and regular physical activity have the potential to improve physical and mental health of seniors. According to the research, seniors who spend ample time in outdoor areas can have long term functional health benefits that can be attributed to more vitamin D exposure.
Here are some of the health benefits of being outdoors for seniors.
- Physical Health Improvement
- Lowers risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes.
- Enhances the immune function and vitamin D production.
- Speeds recovery from surgery and helps pain management.
- Mental Health Improvement
- Being outside is really, really good for your brain!
- Leads to better cognitive function.
- Decreases stress and boosts happiness which reduces anxiety.
- Being in nature lowers risk of depression and mood disorders.
- Fatigue Decreases
- Restorative environments, including being outdoors, can help get your mind back in gear.
- Natural beauty can elicit feelings of awe which is one way to give you a mental boost.
- Connectedness Increases
- Natural environments are comforting sites for spiritual connectedness.
- Seniors who connect with nature have better connections to self, community, & purpose.
- Seniors develop a greater connection to peers and other living things.
- Supports Personal Growth
- Personal growth, self-esteem, emotional regulation, and social skills improve.
- Imagination and independence grow.
- Escape from the strains common in later life, such as boredom, isolation and loneliness.
WAYS TO GET OUTSIDE
You don’t have to take a challenging hike to get the health benefits of being outdoors. There are countless ways to encourage seniors to get active and spend time outside. Here are a few ways to get started.
Birdwatching is one of the best outdoor activities for seniors who want to connect with nature. Many seniors find it to be a surprisingly rewarding activity. It doesn’t take long for a beginner to realize what a soothing, therapeutic experience birdwatching can be.
Picnicking is the quintessential outdoor activity. Whether you’re enjoying a meal for two in the backyard or meeting with friends for a feast in the park, a picnic is the perfect way to get an elderly loved one outside into the fresh air.
This is one of the most popular outdoor activities for older adults. It’s also one of the best ways for seniors to stay active. While some people don’t really think of gardening as exercise, it is an excellent way for seniors to maintain strength and make light aerobic activity a part of daily life. Also getting your hands in the dirt helps you feel grounded and boosts self-esteem.
Going out for a walk can be a great way to take in the world, get some fresh air, and step away from stress and distractions. It’s also one of the most recommended forms of light exercise by health professionals.
Bring the outdoors in
Add greenery to your space for a similar effect to seeing plants outdoors. Some, like plants and bamboo palms, can purify your air.
Spending time in nature not only lowers stress levels but it also strengthens the immune system, which helps to keep seniors healthy. In addition to helping to add some freshness to everyday life, getting outdoors also encourages seniors to increase their physical and mental activity levels.