Why Spending Time Outside Is Good For Senior Adults

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When you feel tired, when you’re in a funk, when restless, or bored, the answer to all of these problems is often going outside. This is true for all of us, no matter the age, but it can be especially helpful for senior adults

While being outside can lift our moods like nothing else, research also shows that being outside provides a boost for physical and mental well-being.

There are many wonderful things about all of our USA Healthcare facilities, but our outdoor spaces are definitely at the top of the list. Whether it’s garden areas, patios, covered porches, gazebos, or seating areas under the trees, we have so many places where our residents can go outside. Whether they are sitting and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, watching the birds, reading in a shady spot, or visiting with friends and family, being outside is so good for their health and wellbeing. 

Why Being Outside Is Good For Senior Adults

  1. Increased energy – Being outside in nature makes us feel more alive and provides a greater sense of energy and vitality, which can help make seniors more resilient to illness.
  2. Boost memory – One study found a 20% improvement in attention span and memory after spending just one hour in a natural environment. More time spent outdoors resulted in even greater gains in memory, and it may improve creativity as well.
  3. Better Vitamin D levels – Being outside can help increase levels of Vitamin D, which often is low among seniors. Low levels of this important nutrient are linked to pain in muscles and bones, inflammation, higher risk of Type 1 diabetes, and several types of cancer. Getting sufficient Vitamin D can help reduce the risk of a number of physical ailments, including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and heart attack. 
  4. Improve immune system – Being outside may also improve overall immunity by boosting white blood cell count, and the improvements may last for a week or more. In addition, time in nature may help speed up recovery from an injury or illness.
  5. Interact with nature – Gardening is a great way to interact with nature and get some exercise at the same time. Birdwatching is another great option for seniors, as well as just sitting and listening or walking leisurely.
  6. More active – Being active can help slow down the natural aging process. When outside, seniors have more opportunities for physical activity, whether they are walking, gardening, or participating in an activity such as tai chi.
  7. Improve cardiovascular system – With more exercise and activity, seniors will improve their heart health by more efficiently pumping blood through the body, which reduces high cholesterol levels and lowers the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in general.
  8. Lower the risk for various diseases – Staying active outside reduces the risk of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers.
  9. Improve balance and motor skills – Extra movement outdoors helps keep balance and motor skills in good condition. Being active helps preserve movement, even for people who are elderly or have physical limitations, because it is not always possible to move around inside the home as much.
  10. Reduce the chance for falls – Improving balance and motor skills will lead to a lower risk of falls for senior adults. 
  11. Improve cognitive function – The stimulation of being outdoors can help seniors become more aware of their surroundings and more alert, which can improve cognitive function, especially in the short-term.
  12. Reduce boredom – While many seniors have a variety of hobbies and interests, this time of their lives may be somewhat slower without as many tasks to complete or activities. When they feel bored or want a change of scenery, going outside is a natural activity for them to do.
  13. Provide engaging activities – While some may like to simply sit and enjoy the outdoors, others will want to be a part of various activities, such as gardening, bird watching, reading, or exploring. As long as it’s safe and they are cleared by their doctor, any activity like this will be good for them.
  14. Reduce stress, anxiety, and depression – When seniors stay inside all day, they are constantly under the effects of artificial light. This can interfere with their circadian rhythms and prevent them from feeling relaxed. Those effects disappear when they go outside because sun exposure stimulates serotonin production, which regulates mood.
  15. Increase stimulation – The brains of senior adults continue to need stimulation. When outside, there are so many sights, smells, sounds, and different feelings on their skin for the brain to process. 
  16. Improve vision – One study found that being out in the fresh air for at least 30 minutes every day could reduce the risk of developing vision problems like cataracts or glaucoma by 60%. Being exposed to sunlight is important for generating vitamin D, which also helps protect against eye conditions like these.
  17. Decrease isolation – When senior adult residents go outside, they are rarely alone. Other residents may be sitting on porches or patios as well, and it’s a natural opportunity for community and conversation.

There are so many reasons to get outside, and at USA Healthcare, we take every opportunity to offer the chance for our residents to enjoy our outdoor spaces!

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At USA Healthcare, we look forward to getting to know you and your family and helping you get the answers you need when it comes to the best care options for your loved ones.

Contact us at USA Healthcare to discuss our long-term and short-term care facilities and options. We’re here for you!