As we get older, it becomes tougher to do the things we love. The same can be said about enjoying the outdoors. As our age rises, making the most of summer isn’t as easy as joining a sports team or going for a run. But, that doesn’t mean it’s any less important for older people to get a breath of fresh air and catch their share of sun rays. And while it’s not as simple as throwing on your running shoes, grabbing your bike or signing up for your favourite sport, there are still many ways for seniors of all abilities to get outdoors and reap the benefits of summer.
The following list is just a selection of different physical activities that are perfect for seniors. Each activity varies in degree of exertion and if you are unsure if an activity is right for you, reach out to us by phone, email or stop into our Waterloo office to chat with one of our team members.
The Benefits of the Outdoors for Seniors
Aside from the obvious health benefits associated with physical activity, getting outdoors provides seniors with many other wellness benefits too.
- Improved Spirit – Things as simple as smelling fresh-cut grass, seeing the bright colours of nature, breathing fresh air and just feeling the warmth of the sun on your face all help to improve mentality. These things can lower a person’s stress, improve their mental health and can lower the levels of depression they may feel.
- Better Sleep – Remember as a kid when you’d spend all day outside, come in and willingly head to bed early? The same goes for when you get older. The more time you spend outdoors, the more peaceful your sleep is.
- Boost in Energy – After waking up from your peaceful sleep, you’ll also experience a jolt in energy. You’ll wake up feeling rested and ready to make the most of the day.
- Stronger Immune System – Spending time outside leads to increased levels of Vitamin D and is also known to boost your white blood cell count. These things are not only good for your overall health, but they can also help reduce your chance of experiencing arthritis, sclerosis, a heart attack and even some types of cancer.
Summer Activity Ideas for Seniors
Summer and pools go hand-in-hand. And while not all pools that offer aqua fitness programs are outdoors, they’ll all provide you with a refreshing workout that’s easy on your bones and joints. If you’re looking for something a little more upbeat this summer, check out the public and private pools for a class that suits you. The YMCAs in Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo all have pools as part of their facilities and are great places to start your search for a water aerobics class that suits you. And if you’d rather swim at your pace, many of the pools in the area offer “open swim” times where anyone is welcome to use the pool. And did we mention, it’s also a great way to cool off on extra hot days?
There is an endless amount of options when it comes to playing yard games. Everything from badminton and croquet to bean bag toss, horseshoes and bocce ball will do the trick if you choose to spend your time outside playing yard games. Take this time to hone your skills for your favourite game or try something new to mix it up a little.
To some, gardening and yard work are chores, but to others, it’s a perfect way to relax and enjoy the warm weather. Gardening is a perfect example of a light activity that the majority of people can use to get their daily dose of Vitamin D. Plant a flower garden to create something beautiful or plant some vegetables and enjoy fresh produce for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And because no garden is ever “finished,” it’s a perfect way to motivate yourself to spend at least 15 minutes outdoors each day watering, weeding, trimming, etc.
For individuals with limited mobility, consider creating a raised garden box to limit the amount of bending required and to make it wheelchair accessible. And if you live in a close-knit community, complex or neighbourhood, try getting your neighbours to join in on the fun so they too can reap the benefits of the outdoors.
Tour local farmer’s markets, flea markets and outdoor events
Every summer, Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo play host to many outdoor events and markets— many of which are free and held on a weekly basis. These are perfect opportunities for individuals who may be unable to or simply not interested in getting their sweat on. The majority of markets and events are held in parking lots and streets, so they are incredibly easy to walk and are also easily navigated by individuals in wheelchairs. Head out and enjoy great food, fantastic music, breathtaking art and local vendors while getting your intake of sunshine and fresh air this summer.
Being a Waterloo-based rehab centre, our favourite market to check out is the St. Jacobs farmer market held every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in the summer. It’s packed full of amazing vendors selling décor, fun gifts and of course, local food. If you’re from the Cambridge, Kitchener or other surrounding areas, check out your local farmer’s market for a similar experience.
Continuing on the topic of food, hosting or attending a picnic is another excellent way to get outdoors and visit with family, friends and neighbours all while improving your health and wellness. You can have your picnic in a local park or even in your backyard for convenience. And to make it even better, many parks around the tri-cities are free to enjoy and offer picnic tables and shelters for guests to use. So, pack a cooler full of your favourite summer foods and refreshments, invite some guests and head to your local park or backyard for an afternoon of good eats and good fun.
And last but not least on our list of summer activities for seniors, is fishing. When it comes to getting outdoors and experiencing the sun, it doesn’t get much more relaxing (or simple) than this. Grab your fishing pole, some snacks, a comfy chair and a hat, and you’re set for a day of relaxation and sunshine. Even if you don’t catch anything, it’s time well spent.
As you can see, there are an endless amount of ways for seniors and anyone with limited mobility to enjoy the outdoors. Whether you’re looking for something to get you sweating or just looking to relax and enjoy the sunshine, there’s something for everyone. The trick is to pick something within your comfort zone as not to cause injury or pain and then as it begins to get tiresome switch it up for something new. This ensures every time you step outside it’s fun and enjoyable. And as we mentioned earlier, if you’re unsure whether or not an activity is well-suited for you, give us a call, send us an email or stop into our Waterloo office to chat with one of our team members.