Few pastimes restore the body and soul like spending time in nature. Research has confirmed that being outside does more than just lift your spirits; it also provides a boost for your physical and mental well-being. What are some of the benefits for seniors who take time to enjoy the great outdoors?
Improvements in Mental Health
Seniors who spend time outdoors may experience less depression and anxiety. Individuals who run, bike or walk in natural settings have a reduced risk of mental health problems compared to people who do their exercise inside.
Participating in nature walks with others is linked to more positive feelings and better mental health, along with lower levels of depression and stress. Seniors who are unable to exercise can benefit from getting outdoors by enjoying the change of scenery, smelling freshly cut grass and seeing beautiful, natural vistas.
Experts advise that seniors should try to spend time in natural areas like parks on a regular basis. The relaxation that nature provides can improve mood and increase overall feelings of happiness.
Being outside in nature makes you feel more alive and provides a greater sense of energy and vitality, which can help make you more resilient to illness.
Spending time outdoors may boost your memory. One study found a 20-percent improvement in attention span and memory after spending just one hour in a natural environment. More time spent outdoors resulted in even greater gains in memory, and it may improve creativity as well.
Better Overall Health
Being outside can help increase levels of Vitamin D, which often is low among seniors. Low levels of this important nutrient are linked to pain in muscles and bones, inflammation, higher risk of Type 1 diabetes and several types of cancer.
Getting sufficient Vitamin D can help reduce your risk of a number of physical ailments, including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and heart attack. By spending just 15 minutes outside in the sunshine each day, you help your body receive the recommended dose of Vitamin D.
Being outside may also improve your overall immunity by boosting your count of white blood cells, and the improvements may last for a week or more. In addition, time in nature may help you recover more quickly from an injury or illness.
Many Ways to Get Outside
If you enjoy aerobic exercise like walking, heading outdoors for your workout can provide additional benefits. Although, traditional exercise isn’t the only way to spend more time outside.
Gardening is another great way to interact with nature and get some exercise at the same time. Consider creating a natural area with native species that can become routes for butterfly and bird migration. You might consider joining a group for nature-oriented activities like birdwatching.
No matter the activity, research tells us that simply being outside and enjoying nature can provide a variety of benefits for your energy, creativity, and mental and physical well-being.