As spring approaches, so too does a warm climate that beckons us off the couch and onto the porch. Getting outside and enjoying nature has health benefits for all, but a study from the University of Minnesota showed that spending time outside is especially vital to the physical and mental health of aging adults.
According to the report, seniors who regularly enjoyed both "green" (forested or inland) and "blue" (oceans, ponds or lakes) nature areas experienced an improved quality of life.
With that in mind, here are a few outdoor activity ideas for seniors this coming spring.
All you need to go birding are a pair of binoculars, patience, enthusiasm and the willingness to get out the door.
Birding allows for an intimate experience with nature since it requires full immersion in your surroundings. Whether you are looking for a specific bird, or are simply observing the birds that come to you, birding helps sharpen the mind through continued focus on the sensory information your eyes and ears provide. It also can be a great form of exercise depending on how far you decide to wander.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology lists some of its staffs' favorite spots to go birding by state. These destinations provide great "green" and "blue" environments to enjoy.
Lawn games provide hours of entertainment with minimal setup required. There are are a number of lawn games that older adults can play, such as bocce ball, badminton, horseshoes and bean bag toss. All of these games can provide hours of entertainment and many laughs.
Those who might not be able to partake in the more physically strenuous lawn games can still lay a blanket down on the grass for a game of checkers or cards.
Miniature golf makes for a great group outing. It's an activity for all ages, so both the grandchildren and the grandparents can get involved. Whether you possess golfing skills or not, miniature golf guarantees great positive stimulation in the form of friendly competition.
To make the most of the trip, stop somewhere for ice cream on the way home. Loser of the round pays.
Jessica Finlay, one of the researchers involved with the University of Minnesota study, pointed out that no matter what activity you decide to do, the main focus is getting outside. "We discovered how a relatively mundane experience, such as hearing the sound of water or a bee buzzing among flowers, can have a tremendous impact on overall health," she said.
This spring, even if it's just getting out for a quick stroll, make sure you and your loved ones are taking the time to enjoy the outdoors.