Florida has long been known as the Sunshine State. Back in 1970, the nickname was officially adopted by the Florida legislature. Given that the state has an average of 237 sunny days per year, far more than the national average of 205 days, it’s easy to see why this nickname is so appropriate when referring to Florida. Spending time outdoors is easy when you live in a state like Florida. It’s also incredibly beneficial for people of all ages, from young children to older adults living in senior living environments. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at why being outdoors is so beneficial for seniors. These benefits include promoting physical health, improving balance and motor skills, boosting vitamin D, reducing the risk of illness, combating feelings of loneliness, and more. Let’s get started.
Promote Physical Health
Staying active in older adulthood is essential to maintain good health and quality of life. Physical exercise, as defined by the CDC, is any movement that moves muscles and uses energy. This is to say, it doesn’t have to be high-intensity exercise; walking, light jogging, or participating in any activity that requires movement is beneficial. Research shows us that as we get older, we are less likely to move. Around 40% of people aged 75 and older say they do not engage in any physical activity. The physical benefits of staying active, which can be achieved by spending time outdoors, include:
- Reduced risk of chronic disease
- Stronger muscles and bones
- Improved cognitive function
- Better mental health
For adults over the age of 65 years, it is recommended that they get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week.
Boost Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for older adults. It helps our bodies to absorb calcium, which is essential for strength and healthy bone mass. Older adults who have a calcium deficiency are more prone to falls and other health issues such as joint pain, osteoarthritis, and fatigue.
Some of the health benefits of vitamin D for older adults include:
- Combats elderly depression and boosts happiness
- Promotes bone health
- Helps prevent cancer and infections
- Protects oral health
One of the very best natural sources of vitamin D is sunshine, which is certainly plentiful in Florida. Regular walks in the sunshine help us to get our required daily dose of vitamin D without the need for supplements.
Improve Balance and Motor Skills
Spending time outdoors, whether walking or performing other activities, also helps to keep balance and motor skills in good condition. Being active outdoors helps preserve movement, even for people who have physical limitations. By spending time outdoors during the day, it is easy to incorporate balance and strength exercises, as well as cardio, that have a big impact on health and flexibility. According to the CDC, around 36 million older adults report a fall each year, resulting in more than 32,000 deaths. Staying active and spending time outdoors helps to strengthen leg muscles and improve balance.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Is there anything nicer than spending a morning or an afternoon outdoors in the sunshine, whether simply sitting down and enjoying the scenery, chatting with friends, or taking a walk? We certainly don’t think so! It’s not that spending time outdoors is only good for our physical well-being, it’s also a wonderful way to reduce stress and anxiety. According to the American Institute of Stress, as many as 20% of older adults report feeling a lot of stress these days. Spending quality time outdoors is a great way to combat depression, anxiety, and stress. Sun exposure helps to stimulate serotonin production, which is important in regulating mood.
Reduce the Risk of Illness
Another benefit of spending time in the great outdoors is that it promotes physical wellness and reduces our risk of illness. For example, research shows that spending time outdoors reduces muscle tension, cortisol levels, heart rates, and stress, which are all risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Cardiovascular diseases are the world’s leading cause of death. These include disorders of the heart and blood vessels. Examples of cardiovascular diseases include coronary heart disease, rheumatic heart disease, and cerebrovascular disease. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important to reduce cardiovascular risks. This includes spending time outdoors, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing and managing stress.
Combat Feelings of Loneliness
Loneliness and social isolation are linked to serious health conditions. Loneliness among older adults is common; globally around 25% of adults over the age of 60 years report feeling lonely. Spending time outdoors is a wonderful way to socialize with new and existing friends and join in fun activities. Some of the health risks of loneliness include:
- Increased risk of premature death
- Reduced risk of dementia
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Increased risk of depression and anxiety
In the case of dementia, social isolation is associated with around a 50% increased risk of this condition.
Senior Living: The Benefits of Being Outdoors
The bottom line is that there are many benefits of being outdoors for older adults. It is not just a great way to improve physical health and well-being but it also improves mental health while reducing the risk of loneliness and social isolation. Thankfully in Florida, the excellent weather makes going outdoors a treat! Here at Alura Senior Living in Rockledge, FL, we have a beautiful community with a lot of outdoor areas and activities for seniors to enjoy. We are a luxury senior living community with independent living, assisted living, memory care, and respite care. Contact us today to learn more and schedule a tour.