Spending time outdoors can make a huge positive impact on the lives of seniors. In a world of complicated health issues, such a simple thing as going outside can make a big difference in our well-being. Spending time surrounded by nature is a great way to stay healthy, lighten your mood and interact with others in your community.
As we age, living situations, medical conditions, mobility issues and more can influence how we spend our time and limit our opportunities to get out and about. It’s not uncommon to experience increased boredom, loneliness, depression or lack of energy. However, research shows that time spent outdoors can alleviate sluggishness and provide a number of valuable mental and physical health benefits.
With warm, summer days ahead, the opportunities are growing for you and your loved ones to reap the benefits of spending time outside.
7 WAYS THE OUTDOORS BOOSTS YOUR HEALTH
Plenty of research has been done to forecast a bounty of physical benefits from venturing to the great outdoors. Studies show that fresh air and sunshine can affect us inside and out. An article from Harvard Health Publications titled “A prescription for better health: go alfresco,” as well as studies published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology summarize the value of spending time out in the sun. Proven benefits include:
- Increased Levels of Vitamin D – Direct sunlight is the main source of vitamin D for our skin. Even just a few minutes of sun exposure a day can help increase your vitamin D, which has been known to help fight off osteoporosis, cancer and depression.
- Increased Physical Activity – When we’re outdoors, we’re more likely to engage in physical activities than when we are stuck indoors. Walking, cycling, gardening and other recreational activities work to keep us at optimal physical health.
- Boredom Buster – Going outside can get your brain moving, too. Even if you simply sit outside or take a short stroll, the sensory stimulation that nature provides eliminates boredom.
- Helps You Heal – Spending time in the sun could help you get over an illness or injury faster. Studies show that those exposed to more natural light have quicker recoveries and experience less pain than those who were exposed to artificial light.
- Increased Social Interaction – Outdoor space allows for more opportunities to do things with others. In turn, spending time with other people boosts self-esteem and positivity, and it can keep us from feeling lonely and out-of-touch, which could lead to depression.
- Better Sense of Overall Health – Psychological studies link time spent outdoors to a greater sense of vitality. Not only does being outside give you more energy throughout the day, but vitality helps our bodies become more resilient to physical illness.
- Greater Feelings of Happiness – We have a natural connection to living things. When we’re out in nature, it’s easy to feel like we belong in our environment. According to an article by the University of Rochester, “Being outside in nature makes people feel more alive.”
IDEAS FOR OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
Fortunately, we’ll never run out of activities to do outside. Here are some easy ways any of us could enjoy spending time outdoors:
- Go for a walk.
- Work in the garden or flower bed.
- Take reading material outside.
- Go swimming or boating.
- Play or watch an outdoor game or sport.
- Invite friends on a picnic.
- Go camping.
- Enjoy outdoor recreation, such as parks, zoos, gardens or open-air concerts.
- Exercise your canine companion. If you don’t have a dog, become a neighborhood dog-walker and make some extra money, too.
- Play with the grandkids.
GET UP AND OUTSIDE!
No matter how you spend your time outdoors, you’re sure to be taking a valuable step in the direction of better health and happiness. If you’d like to know more, contact 55Living or your local senior living provider.