With the modern convenience of climate control always available, being inside can be more comfortable, with a lot fewer bugs. So what makes the great outdoors so great? Many studies have found there are important benefits of being outdoors for seniors. This post will explore the health benefits of being outdoors and show how spending more time outside is one of the easiest — and most enjoyable — ways to improve your health and wellness.
Health Benefits of Being Outdoors for Seniors
1. Vitamin D boost: Exposing your arms and legs to sunshine for 10 to 15 minutes allows your body to produce the recommended dose of Vitamin D. This important nutrient can help reduce your risk of rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and heart attack. Low levels of Vitamin D are linked to pain in muscles and bones, inflammation, higher risk of Type 1 diabetes, and several types of cancer.
2. Energy surge: People report having more energy when engaged in outdoor activities.
3. Better health: Research has indicated that living in a neighborhood with lots of trees can help improve your cardiovascular and metabolic health, as well as lower your blood pressure and stress levels.
4. Fight depression: A 2014 study found that going for group walks in a natural setting could be an alternative to medications for older people who are dealing with life circumstances that could lead to depression, such as loss of a loved one or serious illness.
5. Reduce stress: Spending time outside is linked to lower stress levels and has similar effects on your brain and body as meditating. Although the exact science behind it is unclear, relaxing in a green space results in a lower heart rate and blood pressure.
6. Boost memory: In another study, it was discovered interacting with nature improved memory performance and attention span 20%. Other research has shown that spending more time outdoors is linked to higher levels of concentration, creativity and improved mental clarity.
7. Longer life: A study in 2016 found people whose homes were surrounded by vegetation lived 12% longer. And of the 100,000 women in the study, those who lived by trees and plants had a 34% lower rate of death from respiratory illness, and a 13% lower rate of cancer death.
8. Stronger immune system: Becoming one with nature has been shown by one study to have an amazing effect on your immune system. The study documented that adults who hiked twice a day for three days increased their white blood cell count by 40%. A month later, their white blood cell count still remained 15% higher. These results weren’t found after an urban walking trip, which indicates that the changes aren’t from exercise alone.
Outdoor Activities for Seniors
Even if you’re aware of the number of benefits from being outdoors and increasing physical activity, you may not know exactly where to begin. There are a number of great outdoor activities, including:
- Gardening: Research has found gardening is a great way for seniors to burn calories and increase flexibility.
- Hiking: Going on regular hikes will help build stronger bones and muscles, improve heart health and, as noted above, increase immunity. Hiking can also improve your sense of balance, which can lead to fewer falls.
- Outdoor games: Sports like golf, tennis, molkky and bocce ball can help improve your physical, mental and emotional health in numerous ways.
Living in the Great Outdoors
Spending time outdoors can improve your overall health. One of the best ways to ensure you get plenty of fresh air and sunshine is to live in a setting that gives you access to more things to do outdoors. At McLean, our wooded campus is ideal for outdoor activities with walking trails, patios, a beautiful secure courtyard, and a plethora of ideal gardening spots. We overlook the beautiful Hop Meadow golf course where our residents can enjoy golfing, tennis and swimming; and we are just 5 miles from 4,400 acres of unspoiled wilderness in the McLean Game Refuge. We also offer a monthly calendar full of activities which include walks, outdoor games and exercise classes. To learn more about our “outdoor” lifestyle and the benefits of being outdoors for seniors, contact us here.