Spending Time Outdoors
As seniors start to encounter more challenges and symptoms related to their health, they may find themselves conducting self-directed research and looking for treatments that can help to relieve discomfort and improve the overall sense of wellbeing that they experience day-to-day.
While many forms of treatment require various procedural elements and consultations with healthcare professionals, there is one resource that offers seniors the opportunity to improve their quality of life, is always accessible, and has been proven to yield positive results: the great outdoors. Time spent outside or in connection with nature has the capacity to benefit both the mental and physical health of seniors, and carving out even just a small portion of the day to dedicate to being outside can add a whole host of positive things to seniors’ lives.
Benefits of Being Outside
Taking some time out of the day to head outside and spend a little bit of time with nature is something that might seem small or insignificant in the grand scope of all of the health-promoting behaviours and activities that seniors can incorporate in their lives, but the reality is that the outdoors have a lot to contribute to the mind, body, and soul. The following are some of the benefits that seniors can experience by getting outside and interacting with nature.
- Vitamin D: Without being outside in the sunlight, it can be challenging to get enough vitamin D, which is important for the health of the physical body and the mind. Spending some time outside with healthy exposure to natural sunlight can help to improve mood and help protect against the development of troubles with areas of the body such as the bones or heart.
- Better Sleep: Spending time outdoors can help to improve quality of sleep in a couple of different ways. First of all, being outside often involves at least some degree of movement or exercise that can help tucker out the body in a way that allows for a more restful sleep. Similarly, being outside means more exposure to natural light, which has been suggested to lead to a better night’s sleep than a day spent exposed to artificial lighting. The natural sunlight helps to regulate the body’s circadian rhythm and internal clock so that sleeping patterns are better.
- Improved Mood: There is something almost magical about the way time spent outside can instantly help to improve our moods. Studies have shown that consistent exposure to the sun, the vibrant colours of nature, and the fresh air outside can all help to decrease stress, reduce levels of depression, and help seniors to feel happier and more at ease.
- Strengthened Immune Function: Studies have suggested that being outside improves immune function by increasing the count of white blood-cells that fight off illnesses.
- More Energy: Feeling a sense of connectedness with nature brings about a sense of vitality and energy that can help to fuel seniors through other activities in their day. The very act of being in the company of so much life can help seniors to feel more energetic.
- Social Opportunities: Engagement in outdoor activities invited more opportunities for varying forms of social interaction and relationship building. Whether it be sitting out in the garden with a loved one, going for a walk with friends, or participating in a outdoor interest group or sport, there are many social activities available to seniors outside.
- Attentiveness: Taking a break from everything else and focusing just on being outside can give the mind a break from over-stimulation and provide an opportunity to regain focus that can improve seniors’ attention levels.
The outdoors has a lot to offer to seniors and their health that ranges from emotional restoration to physical strength and immunity. Making time to spend some time outside in whatever way feels comfortable and enjoyable can contribute to the promotion and maintenance of the wellbeing of seniors in Edmonton in meaningful ways.