As we age, regular physical activity becomes one of the most essential things we can do to support our well-being, health, and quality of life. Additionally, research has shown that just being in nature has a significant effect on the mind, body, and spirit. Combined, outdoor activities may be one of the most essential things we can do to maintain and improve our overall mental wellbeing and physical health. Here is a closer look at several benefits of outdoor activities for older adults.
When we go through the same routines every day, it is easy for us to fall into a rut. This can eventually affect our mental health. Those who run, walk, or bike in a natural setting have a reduced risk of mental health issues, even when compared to those who exercise indoors. Older adults who are not able to exercise can benefit from going outside to enjoy sunlight, fresh air, a change of scenery, and the beauty that nature offers. Experts recommend that older adults should try to spend some time outdoors regularly. The relaxation they can enjoy outside can increase their happiness level and improve their mood.
Spending time outdoors makes us feel more alive and we will be able to raise our energy level along with vitality. These factors in turn make us more resilient to illness. Being outside may also enhance our memory with a study showing a 20% improvement in memory and attention span in those who spend just an hour outside. More time spent outdoors resulted in even greater gains in memory and may also improve creativity.
Tougher Immune System
Being outdoors can be beneficial to our immune system and increases the levels of vitamin D in our body which have a tendency to be low among the elderly population. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with pain in bones and muscles, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation, heart disease, osteoporosis, and various types of cancer. Spending just 15 minutes outside under the sun every day, we support our body in receiving the recommended dose of vitamin D. It may also enhance our general immunity as our white blood cell count is boosted with its effects lasting a week or longer. Additionally, our body can recover faster from an illness or injury with a high white blood cell count.
Researchers estimate that between 40 to 70% of older adults experience severe sleep problems and up to half may still be undiagnosed. Severe sleep problems can greatly interfere with their daily activities and implicate their quality of life. Studies have shown that older adults who perform regular exercise can fall asleep faster and sleep longer, thus achieving a better quality of sleep. Exercising is important for older adults to maintain their overall health.
Spending Time Outdoors
Traditional exercise is not the only way to spend some time outdoors. Gardening is an ideal activity that is low impact and safe, while still giving you the opportunity to interact with nature. You may also go birdwatching or fishing. Regardless of the activity, research says that just by being outside, we can reap many benefits for our creativity, energy, and mental and physical health.