When people become older, their ability to engage in physical activity is diminished. Only 34-44 percent of individuals above age 75 partake in a form of physical activity. Among seniors between the age of 65-74 years, about 28 percent are physically active. These numbers indicate that most seniors don’t meet the daily exercising recommendations, despite the vast benefits of physical activity.
A lack of physical activity can cause muscles and bones to weaken. It can also inhibit blood flow, which can cause a host of other issues. These physical detriments can make one susceptible to other illness, and it can also increase the possibility of falling – one of the greatest risks to seniors. Several factors can cause a senior to fall, but physical weakness is a common cause that can be countered by staying active.
Mobility problems and health conditions may create limitations that discourage seniors from outdoor activities. However, some outdoor activities can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of their limitations. These activities aren’t strenuous and can greatly improve a senior’s health and wellness.
Here are five accessible and low-impact outdoor activities for seniors to help them stay active.
Taking a walk is one of the most beneficial physical activities a senior can do. Whether a stroll or a brisk walk, walking helps seniors build and maintain physical strength along with overall wellness.
Walking can also be a social activity, providing a chance to accompany friends or family members, which can reduce the effects of social isolation at the same time.
Fishing is another relaxing outdoor activity that even those with mobility issues can enjoy. Rods can be cast from the dock or pier, the bank of a lake, or even a boat. State parks usually offer well kept public fishing areas that are welcoming to beginner or expert fishers.
Fishing also offers a great escape from the indoor monotony. It’s a way to enjoy the outdoors and invite others along to enjoy it together. It’s also a great opportunity to build memories with the family, especially grandchildren.
A simple yet classic activity, picnics offer several physical and psychological benefits. It’s a means of getting outside to soak up the sun and support Vitamin D levels, a commonly deficient vitamin. It’s also a way of incorporating social connection by inviting a spouse, family, or friends. Whether alone or with company, picnics encourage one to enjoy a change of setting and a non-typical activity which improve mood and overall well-being.
Gardening is a popular hobby for seniors as it provides them a relaxing outdoor activity at the safety of their home without dangerous physical exertion. Tasks like preparing the ground, planting, and tending to the plants provide reasonable physical activity, and also provide psychological benefit. Having tasks to accomplish and seeing the outcome of one’s efforts has a positive effect on the mind. Gardening also has an added benefit of providing food to supplement a senior’s nutrition, or flowers to display for improved mood.
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Swimming is one of the traditional sports that pose little risk to seniors. It is a low-impact activity that keeps virtually every muscle working without the stress of bearing weight at the same time.
Swimming activities can be as simple as taking a relaxing swim to cool off in the summer heat, to more advanced water aerobics. Regardless of the structure of activity, getting the body moving in the water is a great benefit to bones and muscles. Water resistance also improves blood flow and cardiovascular health.
Reducing the Risk of Falls
Engaging in a fun outdoor physical activity helps in reducing the risk of falling. Exercising helps make bones and muscles stronger, yielding more stability and strength, and reducing the likelihood of accidental falls.
It’s always a good idea to use caution and listen to the body when engaging in outdoor activities. Look for signs of fatigue or overheating, which may indicate it’s time to go inside. A senior should always go at a pace that is safe and comfortable for them.
If a senior chooses to maintain their independence and partake in outdoor activities alone, regardless of their physical condition, it’s a good idea to provide them with a medical alert system. These devices are available for indoor and outdoor use, and provide two-way communication in the event of an emergency. Some of the best medical alert systems have fall-detection sensors that automatically notify monitoring representatives, who can then dispatch emergency personnel or family members in the event of a fall.
Getting older shouldn’t mean the end of physical activity. You can encourage your loved one in any of these outdoor activities, and even join in yourself. Staying active is beneficial for the body and mind, promoting positive wellbeing in the golden years.