Spring and early summer is a great time to start spending more time outside. Even though COVID-19 and social-distancing guidelines make going outside more challenging, the health benefits of doing so are undeniable. By taking the right precautions, like wearing a face mask, avoiding crowds, and maintaining proper distancing, you can reduce your risk and reap all the rewards nature has to offer.
Nature Is An Important Restorative
Research shows that outdoor activities offer many benefits, even when compared to other methods of stress reduction. In one study, a group that went for a nature walk scored higher on a concentration test than those who simply relaxed. Time spent in nature can help bolster and restore short-term memory and attention, reduce stress, and improve creativity.
Mental health is often not treated with the importance it deserves, especially for seniors. On top of benefitting mental acuity, spending time outside in nature has also been shown to have a positive effect on anxiety and depression. This is certainly something we can all benefit from in these unusually stressful times.
Though being out in nature has been shown to offer more benefits than walking on a city street, you don’t have to trek to the nearest national park to capitalize on them. In one study, people experienced an increase in concentration simply by looking at a picture of nature.
Sunlight Offers Many Benefits
The reason people are happier spending time outside comes down to a number of factors, and natural light is one of them. Light has been proven to increase mood; in one study, patients on the sunnier side of the hospital took 22 percent less analgesic medication than those on the side with less light. They also reported lower stress and less pain.
Spending time outside can be a good way to supplement vitamin D levels. People over 65 produce a fourth of the vitamin D as people in their 20s. Being out in the sun can help replenish these levels. Although sunscreen blocks the type of UV light which causes sunburns, this same light is also what generates vitamin D in the skin. Walks with intermittent sun exposure can offer the best of both worlds.
Being Outdoors Can Help You Heal
The mental benefits of being outside might seem obvious, but more surprising are the physical effects. As mentioned above, sunlight’s benefit to pain might be as a result of psychological factors. However, a reduction of pain, stress, and negativity can help wounds heal more effectively.
Time spent in nature also reduces inflammation, and some studies have suggested a positive correlation between being outside and improved immune functioning. The presence of nearby green spaces increases the general health of residents, and the elderly are one group who gain even more benefit.
Overall, the physical health benefits nature offers are likely a result of many factors. But, reducing stress and improving your mental outlook can have an enormous benefit on physical health as a result.
There are Many Ways to Get Outside
There are many ways to reap the rewards of being outside. Getting to a nearby park or nature area and taking a long walk is a great way to soak in nature’s benefits. However, for those with less ability to travel, there can be many options in your own backyard—sometimes even literally.
A walk in a city park or time spent sitting in a small wooded grove can offer some of the same health benefits as a more in-depth immersion in a natural setting. But not all of us are lucky enough to live with a pleasant green space nearby. If you have a yard, gardening is a great way to spend time in a natural setting. It can also offer several other benefits from improved self-esteem to hand strength; and in time, a crop of healthy vegetables to put on the table.
Even in small doses, nature can be a powerful tool for wellness. For those with mobility issues, sitting outside and getting some partial sunlight can also have a positive effect. Home health care providers, like those from Generations Home Care, can offer a solution for clients struggling to spend more time outside on their own.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.