The days are shortening, and winter is coming. For people of all ages, it's a time of year that encourages adding extra blankets to the living area or settling in near the fireplace with a warm beverage. And while residents at Bethesda Gardens in Frisco, Texas, and elsewhere might be looking forward to warm days spent inside this winter, the benefits of getting outdoors do still remain.
Find out more about some of the benefits of spending time in nature below, as well as some tips for doing so as the weather turns cooler.
Some people love the outdoors so much they can't imagine staying inside for weeks or months at a time. For others, nature is a more acquired taste. Discover some reasons for pushing yourself out the door this fall and winter below.
You can certainly take supplements to help ensure your body gets this critical vitamin, but nothing replaces the natural vitamin D that comes from the sun. This vitamin helps the function of your immune system, supports strong blood cells and bones, and ensures your body can more readily absorb other important minerals like calcium.
When it comes to getting vitamin D from nature, moderation is key. According to WebMD, you only need to get out in the sunlight for up to 15 minutes a few times a week to accomplish this important health task.
Going into the outdoors doesn't guarantee you'll get more exercise, but it does encourage it. You might take a few turns around the courtyard at Bethesda Gardens before enjoying some time in the gazebo, for example. Or for even more movement, enjoy an outing in one of Frisco's public parks.
Nearby Beavers Bend Park offers walking trails and a picnic pavilion, so you can bring a few friends and a snack to enjoy after you're done exploring nature. If it's chilly out, pack a thermos with warm beverages or soup to ward off the cold.
Being outdoors, especially in natural environments, can help reduce anxiety. The quiet of a little wood, the babbling of a brook or simply the sound of wind through the grass can help you relax. The combination of sunlight, fresh air, invigorating walks and the expanded mindset that the natural world can bring all help reduce the impact your day-to-day worries can have on your mind and body.
And for seniors of faith, being outdoors can bring a time of reflection and worship on what God has done. After all, several Biblical writers do point out that for proof of the divine, we only have to look to the trees, rocks, stars and other elements of nature.
Have you ever noticed that after spending time outdoors in the fresh air during the day, you're more tired and able to sleep at night? There's more to that story than just the extra movement being outside encourages. Your eyes need a certain amount of light to support natural circadian rhythms in your body. Those are the rhythms that help tell your body and brain when it's time to rest and when it's time to be awake. Getting outside into sunlight helps your eyes get what they need for that function.
The outdoors expands the world you have to explore on a daily basis. Whether you enjoy the ample interior common areas of an assisted living community or spend time in your own home during the winter, the walls of any home can become limiting. Enjoying time outside lets you see more, do more and enhance your creativity and thinking processes.
In any season, seniors must be aware of the weather and take appropriate precautions for health and safety before venturing outside. Here are a few tips for safety during cold months:
• Be mindful of slick spots due to ice or wet pavement. If it's cold enough for ice, that might be a day you do want to skip the outdoors adventure and settle in with a good book or television show.
• Get out when the sun is shining. Even the cold months have warmer days. Make the most of the pretty days so you don't feel so much cabin fever on days with wicked weather.
• Wear layers. You want enough clothing to stay warm and avoid exposure risks. But you might warm up as you move around outdoors. Layers let you shed or add clothing as you need when outside.
• Use chapstick and lotion. Be mindful of what winter winds might do to sensitive skin. Arm yourself with protective products or wear gloves and hats to cut down on exposure.
Enjoying nature during cooler months is all about common sense and moderation. Don't feel you have to push yourself to go to the local park on the coldest days, but do take advantage of times you can get out into fresh air and experience the benefits described above.