Updated May 2020
“Nature is fuel for the soul,” notes Dr. Richard Ryan, professor of psychology, psychiatry and education at the University of Rochester. “Often, when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature.”
Another benefit to being outdoors is Vitamin D, which your body produces when exposed to sunlight. According to the NIH, Vitamin D is needed for bone growth and restoration. That means it’s especially important for us as we get older and our bone density may decline.
Here are a few ideas for increasing your time outside and boosting the benefits of being outdoors.
Remember to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new activity or increasing your activity level. And don’t forget the sunscreen even in winter months. Learn more about senior skin care.
Exercise & Sports
Engage in competitive or recreational outdoor games and sports. Low-impact sports like swimming are good outdoor activities. But remember, never swim alone. Horseshoes, bocce ball, pickleball, croquet, ladder-ball and badminton are other popular low-impact games. Doing yoga and any other stretching exercises or aerobics outside is also an option, as long as the weather is conducive. Local parks and recreation departments and senior centers offer multiple opportunities to be active outside.
No matter where you live there is likely a fruit picking event somewhere close by. Depending on the season, you can pick apples, oranges, cherries, strawberries and peaches. When you’re picking your own fruit, you’re not only getting some exercise, but you’re getting some delicious and healthy food to eat on the way home.
Take Indoor Activities Outside
If puzzles, arts and crafts, reading, or card and board games are a favorite indoor activity, bring it outside. And consider enjoying your morning coffee or a meal on the porch or patio – or plan a picnic.
Outdoor activities like these can inspire the joy of living, especially when they include spending fun time with family and friends. Review these safety tips for staying safe and well outside.