4 summer activities for seniors

Before the cold weather arrives and snow piles up, it’s important to spend time enjoying the outdoors. An afternoon lounging in the sun, smelling the roses or walking down a forest trail can lift your spirits and leave you feeling refreshed. Being in nature engages all the senses, and participating in engaging activities outdoors is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.

The health benefits of nature
Research shows that spending time in nature has immense benefits for your mind and mood, which is even more reason to get out there and savour the sunshine.

“Individuals who took a nature walk had lower anxiety levels.”

The National Observer reported on research from Stanford that showed that individuals who took a nature walk had lower anxiety levels, fewer negative emotions and better memory. Furthermore, the study found that those who took nature walks had reduced activity in the area of the brain related to mental illness than those who took walks in urban areas, which are often filled with loud noises, heavy traffic and other stressors.

“Being in nature allows the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s command centre, to dial down and rest, like an overused muscle,” explains cognitive psychologist David Strayer, in an interview with the publication.

Looking for activities that you can do outdoors this summer? Here are a few ideas:

1. Read in nature 
Taking a great novel outdoors can help make reading even more serene and rejuvenating. You can suggest that your book club move outdoors while the weather is still nice – having members gather around and read in a pretty, quiet area, like a shady nook in a park or even on the patio, can be a wonderful way to unwind.

Enjoy the nice weather and take your book outdoors.

2. Practice chair yoga outside 
Chair yoga is a beneficial activity for seniors because it eases pressure on the joints for those with mobility issues. Doing a variety of poses, flows and routines can help relieve pain and improve flexibility and posture, according to the Rick Hansen Foundation. Chair yoga also involves meditation, which helps clear the mind and promotes relaxation.

Meditation helps people “lower their anxiety level; relax their muscles; be present in what they’re doing,” explains chair yoga instructor Heather Dawson to the Foundation.

Practice chair yoga in nature, and you can experience even greater benefits to you mind, body and overall health and mood.

3. Garden
Another good way to relax and enjoy some light physical activity is gardening. Flowers are at their most colourful and vibrant during the summer, and their wonderful fragrance fills the air. You can tend to your own garden, join a gardening club or participate in a program to beautify the local community by planting flowers, trees and shrubs. Before you head outside, just make sure you slather on the sunscreen, don a wide-brimmed hat to protect yourself from the sun and grab a pair of study gardening gloves.

4. Join a walking club
Strengthen your muscles and bones, keep your heart healthy and enjoy the mood-lifting benefits of nature by joining a walking club. There are many walking clubs at Chartwell residences and in communities across Canada. By joining a group, you not only get all the mental and physical benefits of walking outdoors, but also the social benefits of taking part in the activity with others.

These are just a few ideas of activities seniors can enjoy outdoors this summer. Chartwell retirement residences offer a variety of active living programs designed to promote senior health and wellness outdoors and in – learn more about them here.