5 Outdoor Activities for Seniors
Being outside has many health benefits especially for the senior community and aging adult population. Outdoor activities encourage socialization and opportunities for light exercise which play a role in a healthy lifestyle. According to WebMD, as little as 5 minutes outside can drastically improve your mood. With the senior population at an increased risk for loneliness and social isolation, spending some time outdoors could assist.
When thinking about outdoor recreation, there are activities for people of all ages and physical fitness levels. Here are 5 outdoor activities that seniors and aging adults can enjoy while also improving their health!
- Going on a Walk / Taking a Neighbourhood Stroll –
You don’t have to run a marathon to gain the benefits of being outside. Walking is an activity for everyone. A leisurely walk outside is a great way to get some light exercise, get a change of scenery, and even interact with others. A study from the Canadian Cancer Society found that people in Saskatchewan—especially seniors—who walked just under two hours per week reduced their risk of getting certain types of cancer and enjoyed better health outcomes than those who did not. Walking or other modest exercise can improve your balance, reduce falls and injuries, help you stay independent longer, as well as help prevent heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes.
Some great places to walk in Saskatoon: The Meewasin Trail, especially along the South Saskatchewan River by the Weir or River Landing; Wanuskewin Heritage Park, The Forestry Farm and Zoo, and, if walking indoors is preferred, the Western Development Museum or the Remai Modern.
- Bird Watching –
Watching birds doesn’t necessarily need to be done with binoculars or a bird book. Your eyes and ears are a great way to be closer with your surroundings. Listening to the sound of birds can help with general feelings of happiness and positivity. As people, we have a biological connection and attraction to nature. Bird watching can keep your mind active and the time spent outdoors exposed to nature can provide significant mental health benefits.
- Have a Picnic –
Humans are creatures of habit. This is also true when it comes to when and where we eat. A fun activity to also help get outside is to have a picnic! A picnic doesn’t need to be at a park although it very well could be. Eating outside at your residence or local community centre is a great way to vary your scenery and enjoy the great outdoors.
- Gardening -
Gardening can be a relaxing activity. It can also be a way to increase regular, physical activity which can prevent osteoporosis, reduce the risk of some cancers, Type 2 diabetes, depression and heart disease (National Library of Medicine). For those with Alzheimer’s or Dementia, gardening has been reported to be effective for improving sleep, agitation, and cognition. It can also help regain lost skills or learn new skills.
- Light Exercise -
The physical and mental health benefits of regular exercise is undeniable. As we age, the way in which we exercise may change however, staying active improves your thinking skills. Activity promotes gray matter retention in your brain, which helps you process information. Some activities to consider include water aerobics, Pilates, or even chair yoga.
Spending time outside is good for your health. For our aging population, there are many additional benefits physically and cognitively. Maintaining an active lifestyle can improve immunity. If you’re just starting to become active, be sure to check with your health care provider on the best physical activity regimen for you.