Spending time outside is one of the best ways to improve mental and emotional well-being. In fact, studies show that children who spend their recess outdoors tend to do better in school. The same concept can be applied to older adults, who also benefit greatly from spending time outdoors. Venturing outside of your home can expose you to more stimuli, which in turn helps improve cognitive functions and stave off negative thoughts. The additional physical exercise from taking a stroll outside can also improve your physical health by exposing you to more sunlight and maintaining muscle functions. Here are some of the ways spending time outside can improve mental health for seniors.
Boost Vitamin D Production
It is common for older adults to suffer from vitamin D deficiency as their limited mobility makes it easier for them to remain indoors. However, this only serves to worsen their state as being indoors for prolonged periods can cause depression and a general decline in mental health. What’s more, they would be unable to produce sufficient vitamin D, which will result in confusion and drowsiness, causing their health to further decline.
To combat this, you should spend more time outdoors in the sun. Sunlight is incredibly beneficial for our bodies as it helps us produce vitamin D and can also improve our mental health. As such, everyone needs to venture outside for their daily dose of vitamin D. To spice things up, you can even attend outdoors elderly-friendly yoga or Zumba classes.
If you have limited mobility, do not worry as simply spending around 15 minutes outside in the sun is enough for you to feel the cognitive benefits of going outdoors. So, simply stepping out to your porch and enjoying the fresh air and sunlight will do you some good!
Regulate Sleep Patterns
Sleep is another important factor that affects our bodily and cognitive functions. This is particularly true for those who are getting older, as we heavily rely on sleep to think clearly and make rational decisions. Getting exposure to natural light can help the body regulate sleeping patterns and tell it when to produce the appropriate hormones for sleepiness and wakefulness. Additionally, physical activity will help tire you out, ensuring that come bedtime, you will be able to easily fall asleep. With ample sleep, you will be more alert when you wake in the morning.
Improve Mental Health
It is not uncommon for older adults to experience anxiety attacks. Such attacks can occupy their thoughts and make it difficult for them to focus on anything other than what was making them anxious at the time. This impacts their emotional and mental well-being, resulting in a decline in mood and health.
Spending time in nature is an effective way to occupy your mind as the numerous stimuli found outdoors can help stave off anxious thoughts. Furthermore, a short stroll and a change of scenery can aid in clearing the mind and putting you at ease.
Get Blood Flowing to The Brain
Going outside and engaging in nature comes with a certain level of physical exertion that came be beneficial for your health. Whether it’s taking your dog for a walk, playing some light-hearted ballgames with your grandchildren, or even taking a day trip to the local fair, you will definitely be up and about when you go outdoors. This can help keep your muscles deteriorating as well as help increase the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain, keep you alert and sound of mind. It can even help reduce the risk of stroke!
Keep your eyes peeled for exciting outdoor events which will give you the chance to socialize and have fun while you get your daily exercise!