Spring has passed, but the good news is that summer is here! It’s the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors, especially if you live in a senior living community in Winston-Salem. Our community, for instance, has many outdoor activities for seniors lined up just in time for the summer.

Getting outside is an excellent way to relax and enjoy the natural beauty that’s present all around us. There are also some tangible benefits to being outdoors, particularly for seniors.

Research done by graduate students from the University of Minnesota revealed that outdoor locations can potentially improve seniors’ health, both mentally and physically. In addition, the researchers concluded that seniors who spend lots of time in green and blue areas outside, like nearby ponds or parks, feel a greater sense of connectedness and renewal.

Here’s why it is beneficial for seniors to be outside during the summer.


1. Boost Vitamin D

Only a few minutes a day of direct sunlight exposure is needed to complete your daily vitamin D requirements. However, you cannot store any “extra” vitamin D in your body, so try to spend a little bit of time outside every day. The benefits of vitamin D include fighting osteoporosis, helping prevent cancer, and staving off depression.

Also, one lesser-known benefit of vitamin D is that it can also make you stronger. This is because it will assist your body in absorbing calcium. And the calcium will then strengthen your nails, teeth, bones, muscles, and more.

And yes, your body can still absorb vitamin D while covered in sunscreen (though the absorption might be less).


2. Improves Mental Wellbeing

Seniors that spend more time outside might feel less depressed and anxious. Also, people who like to jog, bike ride, or take strolls in natural locations have a lower chance of developing mental problems than those who only exercise indoors. The relaxing feel provided by nature can boost the mood and overall levels of happiness.


3. Better Physical Health

Spending more time outside means that you’ll spend less time in front of the tv. By keeping active, seniors will not suffer as much muscle mass loss. They will also be able to better support their lungs and their heart. Keeping your body moving can also alleviate arthritis symptoms (and other diseases).


4. Boosts the Immune System 

The immune system will also benefit, which means an easier time fighting off the flu and other colds. According to experts, being outside can increase white blood cell count, which can last for many days. As a side effect of being outdoors, seniors will feel more positive and mentally healthy, which helps them to build and maintain a robust immune system.


5. Helps Reduce Mental Fatigue

We all know that feeling when your brain slows down and can’t keep up its normal pace. Researchers refer to this phenomenon as “mental fatigue.”

You can get your mind back on track by exposing it to pleasant environments, like the soothing outdoors. The great outdoors can bring about feelings of awe. These feelings are sure to give your mental health a boost as well. For example, one study discovered that people’s mental well-being increased just by looking at nature pictures. At the same time, looking at images of cities had no effect.

So, there is no better way to spend that extra energy than to do activities outside in your senior living community in Winston-Salem. And after you expend it, you’ll sleep better and be able to think more clearly.

Also, we can clearly see that spending time outdoors works because children with ADHD can function better once they’ve spent time outside. The same should be true for people of all ages. 

Going outside creates opportunities for social interactions, which can happen when meeting new folks or hanging out with loved ones and friends. Beautiful natural places also foster spiritual connections and serve as an escape from the strains of daily living (including loneliness, boredom, and isolation). Also, when you spend more time in natural environments, you will increase your sense of accomplishment and purpose.


Senior couple sitting in chairs on dock by lake


6. Make Recovery Easier

Harvard Health Publishing discovered that seniors recovering from spinal surgery experienced less painful symptoms than patients who remained indoors and took fewer pain meds.


7. Reduce Chances of Premature Death

Studies have shown the importance of staying near green places for residents in urban areas.

Follow-up studies also showed that many diseases were not as commonly found in people who lived very close to green spaces.

Also, a 2016 paper from the Environmental Health Perspectives discovered something similar: more exposure to green was connected to a 12% lower rate of mortality. The biggest reasons were the reduced chances of dying from kidney disease, cancer, and lung disease.


8. Can Help Stave off Anxiety and Depression 

Mental health issues like depression and anxiety can be addressed by spending more time outside in nature. The effectiveness is also compounded when exercising. For example, a study discovered that walking in the forest could be associated with lower amounts of anxiety and fewer bad moods. Another study discovered the usefulness of outdoor walks as clinical supplements for current treatments to address depression.


9. Lower Stress

Stress is a bit of a different thing than anxiety, depression, etc. So why is the outdoors good for lowering your stress levels? Well, the scientific explanation is that the sunshine will actually increase the blood flow to your brain, thus triggering the release of serotonin. That’s the hormone that influences our mood and can make you feel happy.

The sunshine can also enable the cells in your body to communicate with each other more effectively. The overall result is that your mood and self-esteem will improve, and your stress and anxiety levels will go down.

As you can see, just a few minutes a day in the summer sun can change your life today. So what are you waiting for? Get outside of your senior living community in Winston-Salem and get some sun!