Remember playing outside when you were child, maybe attending summer camp and meeting nature up close? Running barefoot, chasing fireflies, lying in the grass…it just felt so good. Fast forward to today: the benefits of getting outdoors for older adults are just as plentiful and maybe even more important…and can be just as much fun!
Forest Bathing: An easy way to soak in nature
Have you heard of forest bathing? No, it doesn’t involve actually soaping up in a tub. Forest bathing is simply spending time in a forest environment for the sole purpose of improving mental and physical health. It’s something that outdoor enthusiasts have always known: being outside in natural beauty is good for every part of you.
The Japanese call forest bathing shinrin-yoku, and studies have shown that it can help boost your energy, immune system and energy. It also can help you sleep better and recover faster from illness.
The benefits of getting outdoors for older adults aren’t limited to forests.
What’s really key is getting outside, breathing the fresh air, and letting some sunshine warm your spirit. Being in nature, or even viewing images of nature, can reduce anger, fear and stress. Nature helps us cope with pain. It lowers our heart rate, relaxes our muscles, and enhances our overall sense of wellbeing.
It might be as simple as a walk around the block, which research shows can enhance physical and mental health several ways. A study led by American Cancer Society researchers found that even low levels of walking are linked with lower mortality, which means walking may help people live longer. Walking is the most common type of physical activity in the US, and has been associated in previous studies with lower risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Take a walk outdoors.
Hiking has also been shown to directly benefit the brain, including in adults that have already experienced mild cognitive impairment. Heading out on a hiking trail exercises your spatial navigation and memory. It supports neuroplasticity, your nervous system’s ability to reorganize its structure, functions, or connections to adapt to new demands and information.
Even More Benefits of Getting Outdoors for Older Adults
- You’ll get your dose of Vitamin D. Being outdoors is a great way to get some beneficial Vitamin D. This busy nutrient boosts your immune system by helping it fight off infections. And the best part is you don’t have to spend hours in the sun to get enough Vitamin D. In fact, according to WebMD, In the summer, just getting sun for 5 to 15 minutes, 2 or 3 times a week, is usually enough. Add a bit of time for the winter months.And as a resident of St. Mark Village, you have an easy pass to get the sunshine you need—right outside your door, with our perfect climate, you can count on the sun to greet you just about every day of the year.
- You’ll boost your exercise regimen. Whether a person is mobile or in a wheelchair, there are ample opportunities for low impact, safe exercise that can boost health significantly. Walking, doing yard work, tending to outdoor spaces, dock fishing, stargazing, picnicking, touring gardens, and enjoying watching grandkids playing in the surf or outdoor games—at St. Mark Village, you’re never at a loss for a reason to be outdoors.
- You’ll find socializing easy. Sometimes we choose to be alone when we are taking a walk through a lovely park or along the beach. But if you are walking in areas where others will most likely be out and about, you are more likely to meet new people, greet friends and feel part of a community. For example, if you live at St. Mark Village, you might enjoy walking through the quaint downtown Palm Harbor area, or through any of our beautiful parks and preserves, such as Honeymoon Island State Park and Wall Springs Park. Interacting with others in a beautiful setting is another of the benefits of getting outdoors for older adults.
- You’ll sleep better. When you’re in nature, you’re often more active, which in itself leads to better quality sleep. But the benefits of getting outdoors for older adults also includes an enhanced sleep cycle , by resetting your body’s internal clock and improving circadian rhythms.
- You’ll be in a better mood. Doing the same thing can result in depression or anxiety among seniors. But residents of St. Mark Village are doubly blessed with not only a full calendar of daily activities, but also lots of reasons to get outside and get beneficial sunshine. That means more serotonin, which helps raise your energy and keep you positive, calm and focused.
The benefits of getting outdoors for older adults are many. And so are the benefits of choosing a senior lifestyle that is warm and welcoming, like Palm Harbor’s St. Mark Village. Here, you can live the good life, make new friends, enjoy all the nearby gorgeous beaches, parks and preserves, and savor the peace of mind provided by seamless access to future health care options. We invite you to find out more today.
Ready to have the time of your life? Download our free guide, A Guide to Living Well During Retirement in Palm Harbor, Florida. Or contact us today.