Summer is almost here, and that means spending more time outdoors. For seniors with limited mobility, however, enjoying hobbies or activities in the beautiful weather that brought them joy in the past can be a challenge.
Whether you or the beloved senior in your life are facing limited mobility due to an injury, arthritis, physical deterioration, depression, dementia, or another condition, being stuck indoors for long periods of time can be more than just frustrating — it can also have a negative impact on overall health and wellbeing.
Getting older, however, doesn’t have to mean an end to getting out in the warmth and fresh air. Read on to discover eight outdoor activities that will encourage exercise and socialization, thereby improving health, wellbeing, and overall quality of life for you or your elderly loved one.
Gardening is one of the most popular outdoor activities for seniors, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s fun, rewarding, and not too strenuous. Additionally, by customizing the size of one’s garden, it’s possible to adjust the level of work and time commitment to one’s own comfort level.
Moreover, gardening can have very valuable health benefits, as well. It can lower stress, increase serotonin, boost heart and cognitive health (lowering the risk of dementia), and increase mobility.
Finally, gardening is easy to incorporate into one’s daily routine in a low-maintenance way.
Water-based exercises are especially ideal for aging adults, due to the fact that it is low impact, gently but meaningfully exercising all the body’s major muscle groups without putting extra strain on the body.
Like gardening, swimming can improve cardiovascular health, muscle strength and flexibility, and mental health. It can also reduce the risk of osteoporosis by improving bone mineral density.
There are plenty of water aerobics classes designed especially for seniors available at gyms and fitness centers, so finding one that is convenient to your location shouldn’t be a problem.
Depending on the specific nature of you or your loved one’s mobility limitations, walking can be a very attainable way to get exercise — for many people, it is very easy to add more walking to daily routines. If one uses a cane or a walker, it is still possible to get out for a walk (with assistance if needed). And if one is wheelchair-bound, there are still plenty of benefits to simply getting outdoors at all.
Walking may be the single best form of exercise for seniors, with benefits including better heart health, lower blood sugar, less pain, and improved mental health.
For a limited mobility activity with some added mental stimulation and the chance to connect with nature, bird-watching is a great way to reduce stress while keeping the mind active.
What’s more bird-watching, much like walking, is very easy to start. All you really need are your eyes and ears, although many bird-watchers also like to bring a pair of binoculars.
The focus required to catch a glimpse of particularly elusive bird species can be meditative, which adds therapeutic mental health benefits, too.
Does your area have convenient access to apple orchards, berry farms, or other fruit-picking activities? If so, this can be another great way to get some mild exercise outdoors.
Fruit-picking is a motivational, goal-oriented activity the entire family can enjoy together, and at the end, you leave with a delicious snack. For added benefit, nutrient-packed fruits like berries and apples can help aid in better nutrition, which is a vital component of overall senior wellbeing.
Everyone loves a good picnic. For seniors with limited mobility, it can be a pleasant way to get outdoors and socialize with family and friends of all ages, without too much strenuous physical activity.
If you want to increase the level of exercise, you can consider adding some easy picnic games, like horseshoes, ring toss, cornhole, croquet, or bocce ball, and more.
Alternately, for mental stimulations without as much movement, you could pass the time with card games, dice games, or board games.
Outdoor Concerts and Theatre
The summer season also brings plenty of opportunities to enjoy outdoor performances. Whether listening to a concert in the bandshell, taking in a local production of Shakespeare-in-the-park, or even catching an outdoor movie screening, this can be an excellent way to pass an afternoon.
Bring some snacks and a picnic blanket, or a comfortable chair, and enjoy the evening with family or friends.
Arts and Crafts Markets
Craft shows, art fairs, and other types of outdoor markets can be a fun way to experience a diverse range of colorful, unique creations — all while getting some mild exercise.
Particularly crafty seniors may even want to try their hand at making and selling some arts and crafts of their own, which is a great way to improve blood flow and dexterity while stimulating the mind.
Whichever outdoor activity is the best fit for you or the beloved senior in your life, it’s hard to overstate the importance of regularly getting outside during the warm months.
For more ideas for outdoor activities delivered directly to your inbox, and for the latest information from the Reflections community, don’t forget to join our mailing list today.