Benefits of Outdoor Activity for Seniors

As an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health, well-being and quality of life. In addition to this, studies have shown that simply being in nature has a dramatic effect on the body, mind, and spirit. Combined, outdoor physical activity may be one of the most important things you can do for improving and maintaining your overall physical health and mental well-being.

Outdoor group activities also give us an opportunity to connect with others. Getting outside, especially in public spaces, helps us see friends, neighbours and meet other people with similar interests.

Regular daily activity can reduce or prevent many of the health issues that are common with age. Being active improves our balance, reduces falls and injuries, aids in prolonging independence, and has been shown to help prevent heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, type-2 diabetes, some cancers and premature death.

Let’s look closer at some of the benefits of outdoor activity in nature for seniors.

Mental Health

It is easy for us to fall into a rut doing the same routines every day, which can affect our mental health. Individuals who walk, run or bike in natural settings have a reduced risk of mental health problems, even compared to people who exercise indoors. Seniors who are unable to exercise can benefit from getting outdoors by enjoying the change of scenery, fresh air, sunlight, and the beauty nature has to offer us.

Experts advise that seniors should try to spend time in natural areas on a regular basis. The relaxation that nature provides can improve mood and increase overall feelings of happiness.


Being outside in nature makes you feel more alive and provides a greater sense of energy and vitality, which can help make you more resilient to illness.

Spending time outdoors may also boost your memory. One study found a 20% improvement in attention span and memory after spending just one hour in a natural environment. More time spent outdoors resulted in even greater gains in memory, and may improve creativity as well.

Stronger Immune System

Spending time outdoors is beneficial to our immune system and helps increase levels of vitamin D, which is often low among seniors. Low levels of this important nutrient are linked to pain in muscles and bones, inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, and several types of cancer. By spending just 15 minutes outside in the sunshine each day, you help your body receive the recommended dose of vitamin D.

Being outside may also improve your general immunity by boosting white blood cell count, with the effects lasting a week or more. In addition, time in nature may help you recover more quickly from an injury or illness.

Better Sleep

Researchers estimate that between 40% and 70% of older adults have chronic sleep issues and up to half of cases may be undiagnosed. Chronic sleep problems can significantly interfere with older adult’s daily activities and reduce their quality of life.

Studies show that seniors who exercise regularly fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and report better quality of sleep. Exercise is one of the best things older people can do for their health.

Many Ways to Get Outside

Traditional exercise isn’t the only way to spend more time outside. Gardening is safe and low impact, and is a great way to interact with nature and get some exercise at the same time. Consider creating a natural area with native species that can become routes for butterfly and bird migration. You might consider joining a group for nature-oriented activities like birdwatching.

No matter the activity, research tells us that simply being outside and enjoying nature can provide a variety of benefits for your energy, creativity, and mental and physical well-being.

Tips to Get Active

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Take part in at least 2.5 hours of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic activity each week.

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Spread out the activities into sessions of 10 minutes or more.

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Adding muscle and bone strengthening activities at least twice a week will help your posture and balance.

What is moderate aerobic activity?

Moderate intensity aerobic activity makes you breathe harder and your heart beat faster. You should be able to talk, but not sing.

  • Examples of moderate activity include walking quickly or bike riding.

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What is vigorous aerobic activity?

Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity makes your heart rate increase quite a bit and you won’t be able to say more than a few words without needing to catch your breath.

  • Examples of vigorous activity include jogging or cross-country skiing.

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What are strengthening activities?

Muscle-strengthening activities build up your muscles. With bone-strengthening activities, your muscles push and pull against your bones. This helps make your bones stronger.

  • Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include climbing stairs, digging in the garden, lifting weights, push-ups and curl-ups.

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  • Examples of bone-strengthening activities include yoga, walking and running.

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