Getting outdoors is good for the body, mind and soul. Seniors can especially benefit from being outdoors and taking advantage of the summer’s offerings. Discover the benefits of taking in the outdoors and then enjoy any of these safe, healthy outdoor activities for seniors.
Benefits of the Great Outdoors
Our bodies need sunlight to produce vitamin D. And just 15 minutes in the sun is a great way to get your vitamin D – but don’t forget to wear sunscreen! Here are some of the benefits of being outside:
- Gives the body and mind a break from daily tasks and concerns
- Helps “reset” the brain for improved focus and attention
- Increases positive attitude
- It may even boost the immune system
Basically, getting outside is good for your health and outlook at just about any age. So, what are some easy ways to get your parents or loved ones outside?
Enjoy an old-fashioned picnic. Pack up that wicker basket with a healthy salad or other light summer fare and head to a local park. Or maybe you have a favorite spot by a lake or a friend’s backyard garden. Wherever you go, this is a great activity to share with friends or family members, especially grandchildren.
Whether it’s a casual stroll around the neighborhood or a hike through the woods, walking has major benefits for seniors. It’s a great, low-impact cardio workout and it’s a great way to stay in touch with friends and neighbors. In fact, many seniors like to walk with a friend or join a walking group. (Adding a step counter is an easy way to add some technology and some extra motivation to this low-tech activity).
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Flower gardens, vegetable gardens, window or container gardens, community gardens. They all offer the joys and benefits of gardening for seniors. Whether you tend an acre or a few flower pots, gardening is a relaxing activity that engages all the senses and connects us to nature.
Not only can you enjoy the outdoors, but you can get in a little exercise while you pick out fresh, locally grown vegetables, gather cage-free eggs, or find your favorite preserves. Farmers markets often have weekly schedules throughout the summer. Search online for events in your area – you’re likely to find great guides like this one for the Twin Cities.
Outdoor Art and Craft Shows
Summer is prime time for artists and craftspersons to display their wares at outdoor shows. Local community and senior centers will often have schedules available.
Whether you're visiting a park or just sitting in the backyard, birdwatching is enjoyable for all ages. Buy a book and keep track of the kinds of birds you've seen this summer. Identifying various species is fun, and trying to add to the list might become a reason to schedule an outing.
Most communities celebrate summertime with a host of gatherings and events. From theater-in-the-park to music concerts to ice cream socials, there’s something to enjoy outdoors almost every day. Check out your community’s offerings in the local newspaper or see if the local senior center has a listing of events.
Whatever activities you choose to enjoy the outdoors this summer, be sure to take along your favorite sunscreen and always have a bottle of water along. While sunshine is good for you, too much sun can have serious consequences like sunburn and dehydration. Those risks are even more serious for seniors. Stay safe in the sun by following the recommendations of the Senior Assistance Foundation for the Elderly (S.A.F.E.).
Enjoy your summer!