The wide open spaces attract people of all ages. The fresh air is hard to resist and the benefits of spending time outdoors are so many that it behooves everyone, including the elderly, to answer the call of nature.
According to researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, humans benefit both physically and psychologically from spending time in nature. Such experiences can reduce stress and help lower heart rate, potentially decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease in individuals. Additionally, the Forest Service notes that spending time outdoors in green spaces has been associated with a lower risk of depression.
Retired seniors or even aging empty nesters who are still in the workforce can make the most of their free time by venturing into the great outdoors. Here are some age-friendly outdoor activities that provide a great reason to get off the couch and enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer.
• Trek: Hiking is excellent physical exercise and an ideal opportunity to spend time in an idyllic setting. The US National Park Service notes that hiking helps individuals build muscle and bone strength, improves their sense of balance, has a positive effect on heart health, and may reduce the risk of certain respiratory problems. Hiking is a particularly attractive outdoor activity for seniors, as many parks offer trails of varying degrees of difficulty, ensuring there is a trail for seniors, whether they are seasoned hikers. or newbies.
• Water aerobics: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that water-based exercises may be especially helpful for people with chronic conditions, a category that many older adults fall into. The CDC notes that a study published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology found that it improves the use of arthritis-affected joints without worsening symptoms. The US Department of Health and Human Services also notes that swimming may improve the health of people with diabetes and heart disease. Seniors can enjoy these benefits by bathing in their own pool or in a local body of water, such as a lake or ocean. Many swim clubs also offer discounted memberships for seniors, making this another great and affordable way to enjoy the benefits of swimming.
• Fishing: Of course, not all outdoor activities need to get seniors pumped up. Fishing is a great reason to get outside, and many dedicated anglers report feeling less stressed after a day of catching their favorite fish. People who eat what they catch may also benefit from improving their diet, as the American Heart Association notes that eating certain types of fish has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease and obesity. .
• Volunteering: Local environmental groups often sponsor cleanups at parks and waterfront attractions like beaches and lakes. Volunteering with such organizations is a great way to get out and give back, and working with like-minded people can be a great way for seniors to meet new people. Additionally, a national study sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service in 2019 found that 88% of Senior Corps volunteers who initially reported a lack of companionship reported a decrease in feelings of isolation after volunteering.
The opportunities for seniors to enjoy the great outdoors are endless. Taking advantage of such opportunities can benefit seniors in multiple ways.