Go Play Outside! Five Ways Seniors Benefit From Time Outdoors

Plus, tips for playing it safe this summer.

image of smiling assisted living residentWhen most people think of summer, they think of the outdoors: relaxing on the porch, a barbecue with friends and family, and trips to the beach or to the woods. Getting outside is fun! Not only do these times outdoors make great memories, but they have health benefits, too.

Seniors especially benefit from time outdoors. Whether taking in the green open space from our patio, strolling on a walking path, or tending to a garden, being outdoors can help boost seniors’ physical and mental health. Read on for more information about the benefits of being outdoors, plus tips for playing it safe outside this summer.

Five Ways Seniors Benefit from Being Outdoors

Time in nature can refresh the mind and body, and the good news is that “nature” doesn’t have to mean a long hike! A walk in the grass or sitting by a shady tree is enough for seniors to get all the healing benefits of being outdoors. In fact, studies have shown that people who spend one to two hours per week in green spaces report overall better health and wellbeing.

Here are just some of the benefits of getting outdoors for seniors:

  1. Reduce stress. Time outdoors in green spaces is shown to reduce stress. Studies have shown that those who spend time outdoors see a reduction in blood pressure and have lower levels of stress hormones.
  2. Increase Vitamin D. The body naturally produces less Vitamin D as we age. While some Vitamin D comes from food, most of the Vitamin D produced by the body comes from sunlight. Vitamin D is beneficial for heart and bone health and has some protective benefits against certain forms of cancer.
  3. Boost creativity. Ever taken a walk to “clear your head?” It works, and there is science to prove it! Researchers at Stanford University found that an outdoor walk (or moving by wheelchair outdoors) can help improve brain function – especially creative thinking. The same study also showed that people tend to be more talkative when walking outdoors. No wonder our resident-run walking club is so popular!
  4. Reduce pain. A study of patients after surgery showed that those with greater exposure to natural light needed less pain medication and reported less stress during the healing process.
  5. Improve sleep. Another Stanford University study showed that spending time outdoors helped improve sleep quality, especially for senior men.

Playing it Safe Outside

Ready to get outside? Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors, but the heat can be a challenge for seniors. Here are some tips to help you and your senior loved ones play it safe outdoors.

  • Stay hydrated. Hydration is an all-day event! Rather than waiting until you feel thirsty, sip on water throughout the day.
  • Avoid the hottest times of day. The hottest time of day usually is between 3:00 and 4:30 pm – not noon as you might expect. Late afternoon is the time to enjoy a cold beverage and a snack!
  • Wear sunscreen. Sunburns can happen quickly, and seniors’ skin tends to be more sensitive. Some medications can also cause increased sensitivity to sunlight, so check in with your loved one’s physician about side effects.
  • Make a fashion statement. Protect your eyes and skin with a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses.
  • It’s okay to skip a day (or two, or three). Sometimes, the weather is just too darned hot! Stay inside by a big sunny window and get the benefits of natural light while keeping your cool.
  • Bring the outdoors inside. Getting in touch with nature can happen indoors, too. Enjoy a view of green space and trees or surround yourself with indoor plants. Even green walls can pick up your mood!

Ready to get outside? See the outdoor activities at Sunnyside Manor on our activities calendar, plus more photos of our grounds in our photo gallery and virtual tours.

All of us at Sunnyside Manor wish you safe, happy, and healthy summer.

Please consult with your physician before starting any new exercise or dietary routine.

Learn More About Why Families Rely On Sunnyside Manor

When it is time to make decisions about senior living, we are here to help. Sunnyside Manor offers assisted living, memory support, and skilled nursing and rehabilitation. Learn more about Sunnyside Manor’s resources for caregivers. Whether you’re looking for short-term support or a longer-term plan, begin with our “Getting Started” guide. Please call us at 888-696-2052 to speak with a senior living expert.

Sunnyside Manor, located in Wall NJ, is the area’s premier senior living community. It features three distinctive neighborhoods: Independence ‘Plus’ Assisted Living, Recollections Memory Care and Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation.

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