There’s often a hint of wistfulness when adults share tales of a childhood where long, hazy summer days were spent outside with friends, playing games and having adventures until the setting sun signaled the end of the day’s fun. Now, the average American spends roughly 90 percent of their time indoors, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The amount of time spent outside often shrinks as people age – which is a real shame. There are many significant benefits of being outdoors for seniors.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy the great outdoors? If you like being on the move, you might wish to walk, hike, bike, or play sports. Those who crave time on the water might like to fish, boat, swim, or kayak. Gardening gives you the pleasure of helping beautiful (or delicious) things grow. Or if you’re looking to relax, you could picnic or read a book outside. The key is choosing an activity you adore, so that it’s easy to enjoy the benefits of being outdoors for seniors.
Benefits of Being Outdoors for Seniors
A Healthier Body
A 2012 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health examined the effects of regularly spending 30 minutes or more outside on seniors, and it demonstrated a clear connection between being outdoors and better health. Those who made a habit of getting outside were able to complete a 400-meter walk with greater speed and ease. They also reported better physical functioning, were less afraid of falling, and scored higher on questions gauging their quality of life.
What factors led to these benefits? Part of the credit might go to the exercise involved in getting outdoors. Some may also be associated with sun exposure and its connection to a healthy supply of vitamin D, also known as “the sunshine vitamin,” which helps fend off osteoporosis, supports the immune system, and reduces inflammation. Whatever the explanation, there’s a clear correlation between time spent outdoors and better health.
A Happier Headspace
Natural light is known to boost people’s moods and help fend off depression and anxiety, so it’s no surprise that getting outside can help seniors find a happier headspace. Moving around in natural spaces may produce even greater dividends. Harvard notes that several studies have found a connection between mental health benefits like improved mood and higher self-esteem and “green exercising,” or engaging in physical activity while in an open, natural space.
A lift in mood might also be explained by the fact that outdoor activities can provide an opportunity for social engagement. After all, loneliness is strongly linked to depression and anxiety. Whether it’s a casual interaction with neighbors, a planned adventure with friends, or a chance to gather with other people with similar interests, getting outdoors can be a great way to build and foster connections with other people.
Sleep is an essential component of wellness, but many people struggle with insomnia. As WebMD indicates, getting outside while the sun is out can help keep your body’s natural clock ticking along properly. This reduces your likelihood of suffering from sleep troubles.
If you’re worried about brain fog, getting outdoors may help. According to Mental Floss, spending time in a natural space can sharpen focus and boost creative thinking. Enjoying some time outdoors also seems to reduce stress and strengthen the short-term memory.
A Longer Lifespan
Could spending time outdoors help you live longer? It’s possible, according to Business Insider. Numerous studies indicate that people who have access to green, natural spaces enjoy better health outcomes and seem to suffer from less disease. In fact, more exposure to green spaces is associated with a 12-percent lower mortality rate and a reduced risk of dying from cancer, kidney disease, or lung disease.
Whether you’re exercising, relaxing, or just enjoying a cup of coffee, spend some time outdoors today. Your body will thank you for it.
Are you looking for an assisted living community in Tennessee? Check out Hearthside Senior Living in Collierville and Bartlett. Our warm and inviting communities makes it easy for seniors to embrace a healthy lifestyle, with home-cooked and restaurant-style meals, exercise classes, and a nurse devoted to residents’ health and wellness. To learn more about our amenities and services, please contact us online.