Benefits of Being Outdoors
Studies have proven that being outside is a valuable aspect of a healthy lifestyle. More than just helping us get more vitamin D, going outdoors can benefit our physical and mental health and create opportunities for meaningful ways to spend our time.
For seniors, being outdoors can eliminate boredom, allow for socialization and boost overall well-being. Older adults whose health or mobility conditions commonly keep them shut indoors especially benefit from frequent exposure to fresh air and sunshine.
Proven Benefits of Outdoor Activities
Research shows that spending time out in nature is good for our bodies, minds and spirits. An article from Harvard Health Publications titled “A prescription for better health: go alfresco,” as well as studies published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology acknowledge the value of spending time out in the sunshine. Proven benefits include:
- Higher Levels of Vitamin D – Direct sunlight is our bodies’ main source of Vitamin D. Even just a few minutes of sun exposure a day can help increase your Vitamin D, which has been known to help fight off osteoporosis, cancer and depression.
- Potential for Faster Healing – Spending time in the sun could help you get over an illness or injury faster. Studies show that those exposed to more natural light have quicker recoveries and experience less pain than those who were exposed to artificial light.
- Increased Physical Activity – When we’re outdoors, we’re more likely to engage in physical activities than when we are stuck indoors. Walking, cycling, gardening and other recreational activities work to keep us at optimal physical health.
- Breaks Through Boredom – Going outside can get your brain moving, too. Even if you simply sit outside or take a short stroll, the sensory stimulation that nature provides eliminates boredom and influences creative thinking.
- More Social Opportunities – Outdoor space allows seniors more opportunities to do things with others. In turn, spending time with other people boosts self-esteem and positivity, and it can keep us from feeling lonely and out-of-touch, which could lead to depression.
- Better Sense of Overall Health – Psychological studies link time spent out in fresh air and sunshine to a greater sense of vitality. Not only does being outside benefit you with more energy throughout the day, but vitality helps our bodies become more resilient to physical illness.
- Greater Feelings of Happiness – We have a natural connection to other living things. When we’re out in nature, it’s easy to feel like we belong in our environment and foster a sunny disposition. According to an article by the University of Rochester, “Being outside in nature makes people feel more alive.”
Ideas for Spending Time Outdoors
Fortunately, the possibilities for outdoor activities are practically limitless. Here are some easy ways for seniors to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air:
- Go for a walk
- Exercise outdoors with yoga or tai chi
- Work in the garden or flower bed
- Take reading material outside
- Play or watch an outdoor game or sport
- Invite friends on a picnic
- Enjoy outdoor recreation, such as parks, zoos, gardens or open-air concerts
Of course, being out in the sun does require some basic precautions. Be sure that you wear sunscreen to protect from sunburns, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and avoid overexertion to reduce the risk of heat stroke.
No matter how you spend time outdoors, you’re sure to be taking valuable steps in the direction of better health and happiness. If you would like to learn more about leading a healthy senior lifestyle, contact The Commons today.