The average person spends 90% of their time indoors, so think about what that statistic must be for seniors, who often have more difficulty moving around and fewer commitments outside the home. While staying indoors may be the norm, it deprives you of a vital ingredient for physical and emotional well-being – fresh air.
Research shows that spending time out in nature is good for our bodies, minds and spirits. An article from Harvard Health Publications titled “A prescription for better health: go alfresco,” as well as studies published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, acknowledge the value of spending time out in the sunshine. Proven benefits include:
- Higher Levels of Vitamin D – Direct sunlight is our bodies’ main source of Vitamin D. Even just a few minutes of sun exposure a day can help increase your levels of Vitamin D, which has been known to help fight off osteoporosis, cancer and depression.
- Potential for Faster Healing – Spending time in the sun could help you get over an illness or injury faster. Studies show that those exposed to more natural light have quicker recoveries and experience less pain than those who were exposed to artificial light.
- Increased Physical Activity – When we’re outdoors, we’re more likely to engage in physical activities than when we are stuck indoors. Walking, cycling, gardening and other recreational activities work to keep us at optimal physical health.
- Breaks Through Boredom – Going outside can get your brain moving, too. Even if you simply sit outside or take a short stroll, the sensory stimulation that nature provides eliminates boredom.
- More Social Opportunities – Outdoor space allows seniors more opportunities to do things with others. In turn, spending time with other people boosts self-esteem and positivity, and it can keep us from feeling lonely and out of touch, which could lead to depression.
- Better Sense of Overall Health – Psychological studies link time spent out in fresh air and sunshine to a greater sense of vitality. Not only does being outside benefit you with more energy throughout the day, but vitality helps our bodies become more resilient to physical illness.
- Greater Feelings of Happiness – We have a natural connection to living things. When we’re out in nature, it’s easy to feel like we belong in our environment and foster a sunny disposition. As said in an article by the University of Rochester, “Being outside in nature makes people feel more alive.”
Ideas for Outdoor Activities
Fortunately, we’ll never run out of activities to do outside. Here are some easy ways for seniors to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air:
- Go for a walk
- Work in the garden or flower bed
- Take reading material outside
- Play or watch an outdoor game or sport
- Invite friends on a picnic
- Enjoy outdoor recreation such as parks, zoos, gardens or open-air concerts
Of course, being out in the sun does require some basic precautions. Be sure that you and your loved one wear sunscreen to protect from sunburns, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and avoid overexertion to reduce the risk of heat stroke. Getting fresh air can also be worked into your daily routine. If you have an appointment, for example, look for ways to spend time outside, such as visiting a nearby park or relaxing on a bench. On days when the weather or other circumstances keep you inside, open the windows to get fresh air or decorate your home with plants for an added source of oxygen.
If you or an aging loved one are considering home care in Monroe Township, NJ, please contact the caring staff at Care Street Home Care of New Brunswick today. Call (732) 607-8870.
Prior to assuming his current position, Judah served as assistant administrator at Atlantic Coast Rehab (Lakewood, NJ) as well as Hunterdon Care Center (Flemington, NJ)
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