As seniors age, engaging in outdoor activities and immersing themselves in nature is more crucial than ever.
The simple act of getting up, going outside, and moving around is not all about embracing the abundant beauty of nature and releasing built-up stress. Research has also pointed out that such activities can enormously benefit seniors’ overall well-being and wellness — think of better functions of joints and muscles, improved blood flow throughout the body, enhanced quality of life, and so on.
Discover further the benefits of outdoor activities with our list of 7 physical benefits of outdoor recreation activities for seniors.
Impressive Physical Benefits of Outdoor Recreational Activities for Seniors
7 Health Benefits of Outdoor Activities for Seniors
Prevents Vitamin D Deficiency
Boosting vitamin D intake is one of the many benefits linked with outdoor activities for seniors.
Vitamin D, also known as “the sunshine vitamin,” is praised for its protective power against a range of life-threatening conditions related to old age, such as heart attacks, strokes, and cancers. Getting enough vitamin D also helps seniors improve their bone health, minimizing the risk of osteoporosis.
Another lesser-known health benefit of vitamin D is that it strengthens nails, hair, and muscles, as vitamin D aids in the body’s ability to absorb calcium sufficiently. As incredible as it may sound, too much sunshine can cause skin damage and cancer.
Remind your parents to only spend 10-15 minutes per day under the sun, with the ideal time for soaking up the sun being early morning or late afternoon. Plus, don’t forget to wear high-SPF sunscreen if they plan to be outside for extended periods, especially in the summertime.
Lowers the Risk of Respiratory Issues
With air pollution reaching an all-time high in recent years, seniors are mostly convinced that they are better off staying indoors and keeping their doors shut. However, researchers have proven otherwise, revealing that spending time outdoors may help seniors breathe better and minimize their risk of developing or worsening respiratory diseases like asthma or seasonal allergies.
In contrast to common belief, indoor environments contain 2 to 5 times more air pollutants and harmful particles than outdoors. So, always staying indoors is not necessarily a good thing.
Seniors with breathing issues may find significant relief from joining activities in open and greenery spaces like parks. That’s because improved air circulation can dilute viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms compared to enclosed spaces like their homes. Encourage your parents to go for a walk when the air pollution index is relatively low. Like sun exposure, remind your parents to avoid going outside during pollen season.
Increases Physical Health
For years, numerous studies and reports have brought attention to the pervasive dangers of staying home all the time for senior citizens, disclosing that seniors who rarely leave their homes have a higher risk of mortality. It is connected to many implications, such as reduced mobility, a weakened immune system, increased mood swings, appetite changes, vitamin D deficiency, poor posture, sleep issues, and weight gain.
Many findings have concluded that seniors spending more time outdoors may experience lower risks of premature death, improved physical health, and better mental health. Getting out and about, whether walking or running errands, gives seniors numerous opportunities to feel energized through a close connection with natural environments. Plus, being physically active aids in the refinement of seniors’ motor skills and balance, which deteriorate with age.
Staves Off Mental Health Issues
Walking in nature and participating in outdoor recreational activities are not only good for seniors’ physical health, but their mental health can benefit greatly.
It’s been studied that excessive exposure to artificial light sources, such as LED bulbs, TV screens, and smartphones, can mess up sleep patterns, resulting in poor sleep quality, mood disturbances, and other mental issues. On the one hand, spending more time outside is a natural way for seniors to fight off anxiety and depression, restore their biological clocks, and regulate their bad moods. Being active outdoors and getting lost in outdoor activities also allow seniors to unwind and take their minds away from an endless train of thought.
Promotes Social Cohesion
We all know that seniors spending too much time indoors are prone to isolation and loneliness because they have fewer chances to socialize and connect with friends and family. Mundane routines often leave seniors vulnerable, increasing their risks of facing emotional distress and developing depressive symptoms.
While instant messaging apps and video chats can help bridge the gap between people and people, nothing beats the ample benefits of actually going outside and striking up a conversation with people in real life. Seniors’ sense of belonging is enhanced when they become part of outdoor activities, while their overall mental well-being is boosted significantly.
Enhances Cognitive Functions
As seniors age, many face significant challenges in memorizing, concentrating, or following specific instructions due to an inevitable decline in cognitive abilities.
In addition to other brain-boosting strategies, regular engagement in outdoor activities has been proven effective in keeping the brain active, enhancing and preserving cognitive performance in seniors. It helps disoriented seniors improve memory, extend attention span, foster greater peace of mind, maintain calmness, increase alertness, and minimize the risks of age-related degenerative health conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Relieves Chronic Pain
Another reason why it is crucial to step outside is because it can do wonders for seniors dealing with chronic pain and conditions. While some pains can go away after weeks of medications with a few lifestyle changes, persistent pain can be quite a nuisance for most seniors due to vague symptoms and a lack of proper diagnosis.
Findings reveal that seniors participating in outdoor activities have quicker recovery time, less need for pain medication, and lower risks of complications. Plus, spending more time in nature aids seniors’ immune systems, making them more resistant to harmful bacteria and viruses.
More Outdoor Activities, More Fun at 12 Oaks Communities
Engagement in outdoor recreational activities, such as birdwatching, swimming, cycling, camping, fishing, photography, and going for field trips or road trips, is a beneficial and enjoyable pursuit that results in life satisfaction and enjoyment among seniors.
Our 12 Oaks communities offer a variety of activities that stimulate our residents’ physical and mental health, combined with all-around assistance from professionals to check their health conditions to design and deliver the best care possible for them.
If you have questions about the physical benefits of outdoor recreational activities or any topics discussed here, connect with us and learn more.
At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks senior living communities are an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.
For questions or to schedule a personalized tour, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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Searching for senior living help? At 12 Oaks Senior Living, we would love to learn more about your unique needs and the opportunity we may have to help you meet them. Our blog is one of the valuable resources we provide to inform and encourage seniors to lead fulfilling and thriving lives. Contact us today to schedule a visit.