Celebrating Healthy Aging Month Outdoors

September is Healthy Aging Month, and since in many places, the summer scorching is cooling down and breezes are picking up, particularly in the early morning and evening, let’s talk about getting our seniors outside more and why it’s so important for them to do so!

A recent scientific study of almost 20,000 people concluded that compared to no nature contact, spending at least two hours in nature each week leads to feeling healthy and a high sense of wellbeing. On a similar note, there are studies that conclude that gardening is beneficial to dementia patients. The 120 minutes can be spent in a wide variety of ways to see improvements in things like reduced anxiety, better blood pressure and less depression. Let’s try to toss excuses aside, like for those who live in an urban environment, seek out the green space in public parks and tree lined blocks. For those who live in more lush areas, well, lucky you! Researchers say that super verdant green spaces (we’re talking lots of plants, butterflies and birds) may inspire you to reap even deeper benefits from nature’s connection to health. If your loved one’s doctor prescribes a dose of nature or exercise, take it seriously and do what you can to help make it happen. Newsflash, you needn’t spend two hours at one time; if you break it up into daily increments—only about 17 minutes a day.

If your loved one’s stamina isn’t up for hiking and biking al fresco, you can dial it down and do more relaxed outdoor excursions like bird watching, bulb planting, or even sitting on the porch to enjoy a storm or cool breezes. Some other ways to sneak in bursts of fresh air: host family meals outside, walk the dog a little longer, or do light yard work (pick up twigs and put them in a pile by the curb).