Have you ever noticed how you feel after being outside for a while? Countless studies have shown being outdoors can make people happier and less stressed. But are these positive effects similar in seniors? Indeed they are! Read on to learn how spending time outside can be beneficial for your senior loved ones.
What's so great about the outdoors?
People need sunlight to make vitamin D. This crucial vitamin bolsters the immune system and fights inflammation, a condition common among seniors who have recently broken a bone or who have arthritis. Especially during the winter months, many people don't get outside enough to create ample amounts of vitamin D, leaving their immune system wanting more. According to The Vitamin D Council, spending just 15 minutes outside can help senior bodies make their daily recommended amount, which can improve their health over time.
Spending time outside has also been linked to improved attitudes and positivity, as well as lower levels of stress and depression. Seniors are particularly at risk of depression, and getting out for a walk around the block or a rousing game of tennis may be factors in reducing the likelihood of a senior becoming depressed. Plus, add in the benefits of getting exercise and you might just want to get your senior loved one and head straight outdoors! Even elevating your heart rates slightly can promote happiness and help fight obesity.
"Head outside for 15 minutes to improve vitamin D production."
Getting seniors outside
Author Richard Louv told AARP about his term "nature-deficit disorder." He notes it's not a medical diagnosis, but it refers to the way kids today are not exposed to the outdoors nearly as much as older generations. Your kids, for example, probably spend time playing video games or on the computer. If you ask a senior friend or family member about his or her outdoor experiences while growing up, the person will probably have plenty of fond memories to share. From growing up on a farm to simply not having all those screens to play with, many seniors enjoyed growing up outdoors. So why shouldn't they do so now, too?
One great way to encourage seniors to get outside is to look for a senior living community that offers outdoor activities and a courtyard. Even just sitting outside in the sunshine can be beneficial, but make sure the senior wears ample sun protection and stays hydrated. For more active seniors, consider purchasing a National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass. This $10 ticket allows any person over 62 years old to visit National Parks, Wildlife Refuges and National Forest lands. That means being able to see incredible wild places and get out there to hike, snowshoe, ski, or just drive on through to enjoy the wonders of the natural world. Make it a family affair and go together on a weekend warrior trip or even a longer vacation. All that time outside will do your bodies and minds good.