What did your mom always say when you were a kid? “Go outside and get some fresh air!”
You may not be a kid anymore, but your mother’s advice still pertains. In fact, it’s even more important for seniors to get outside to enjoy the tangible and intangible benefits. Quite simply, sunshine and fresh air refuel the body, mind, and spirit – the fundamentals of life, as we see it here at Magnolia Manor.
Green Spaces and Blue Spaces
We all know about green space – gardens, parks, forests, etc. Blue spaces are water-oriented – ponds, fountains, streams, the ocean. A research team from the University of Minnesota studied the effects of green and blue spaces on senior wellbeing and concluded they “promote feelings of renewal, restoration, and spiritual connectedness.”
The team reported that spending time around greenery and water helped dispel feelings of boredom, isolation, and loneliness – issues that can be a real concern for many seniors. Outdoor green and blue environments encourage social interactions, from gatherings with family and friends to the chance to meet new people.
Getting Outside Strengthens Your Body
It’s easy to understand that getting more exercise builds healthy bones and muscles and boosts your circulation. And we all know that stronger muscles, bones, and blood flow can help prevent or reduce the impact of many potential health issues.
There are myriad ways to exercise in the great outdoors. You can walk virtually anywhere, jog, bike, hike in the forest or go fishing. Pack a picnic and enjoy a tasty meal al fresco when you get to your destination. Doing these things improves your health in other ways beyond the obvious benefits of exercise.
Direct sunlight stimulates your body to produce vitamin D, an essential nutrient your body requires in order to absorb calcium. Insufficient calcium can lead to osteoporosis and increased risk of fractures, especially in seniors. But vitamin D does much more, including supporting muscle function, brain function, and your immune system. Some research has also shown that low vitamin D levels may be related to cognitive decline.
For seniors, increased exposure to green spaces helps prevent cardiovascular disease and premature death.
Getting Outside Renews Your Mind
If you’re physically active outdoors, your mind is working, too. Pursuing favorite hobbies such as birdwatching or gardening keeps the hands and mind busy and helps to overcome “mental fatigue,” that feeling which your brain isn’t quick clicking today. A change of scenery in fresh surroundings can help refresh your brain function so you can focus and concentrate better again.
Spending time outside also improves mental health, helping to relieve anxiety and depression and promote a positive outlook.
Getting Outside Soothes the Soul
While there are many benefits to being active outdoors, there is also great value in enjoying the solitude that green and blue spaces can offer. Everyone needs a private, personal chance to reflect and recharge now and then. In the words of the Minnesota research team, “Waterfront areas are comforting sites for spiritual connectedness with deceased loved ones, and relaxing places to escape the strains of later life.”
So, Go On . . . Get Out There
As best you can, at any rate. You can see and feel the benefits whether you’re up for a hike, a bike ride, or simply a quiet sit by the pond or the garden. Take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and you feel calmer. More peaceful. But if you’re going to be out in the sun, don’t forget to use sunscreen on your face, neck, hands, and any other exposed areas!
Explore the Outdoors at Magnolia Manor
All nine of our senior living communities in south Georgia offer green and blue spaces in various capacities. There are walking trails, gardens, fountains, ponds, and even fishing spots at some of our campuses. Come see for yourself all that Magnolia Manor has to offer. Contact us online or give us a call at (855) 540-LIFE to schedule a tour or for more information.