Posted on Nov 30, 2023, 4 p.m.
To cultivate a healthier and more fulfilling life as we age, spending time amidst greenery can be a key strategy. Studies have revealed that just about two hours per week in natural environments like parks or forests significantly boosts health and mental wellness.
This isn't just a blanket statement; its benefits extend across various demographics, including divergent ethnic backgrounds, and are also beneficial for individuals with disabilities and chronic illnesses.
What's more, immersing oneself in nature has the potential to decelerate the aging process, enabling us to maintain our cherished activities for longer. Therefore, it is imperative for seniors—regardless of their health status—to seek out and engage with the great outdoors, embracing the restorative embrace of nature to enhance their quality of life.
Take Up Gardening as a Hobby
Most seniors experience stress due to chronic illness, loneliness, financial worries, or major life changes. Therapy can help to ease stress, but so can gardening. Growing flowers and vegetables isn't just a way to improve the aesthetics of a building, but it can also be a wonderful stress reliever for older adults.
According to the American Institute of Stress, engaging in a creative activity such as gardening can reduce cortisol levels in just 45 minutes. Moreover, being surrounded by greenery can also have a soothing effect on the mind. This is likely the reason why businesses are creating green spaces since therapeutic landscaping can benefit employees' mental health and lead to enhanced productivity.
Older adults who feel constantly stressed can take up gardening as a hobby. It's a great way to cope with negative feelings and improve your state of mind. Start by planting easy-to-grow crops such as bell peppers, cabbage, garlic, and cucumbers– seeing the literal fruits of your labor may encourage you to keep gardening. Planting some herbs with a soothing fragrance such as lavender, mint, thyme, and rosemary can also help to lower cortisol levels and promote relaxation.
Some seniors prefer to spend most of their time at home since it gives them a sense of safety and comfort. However, spending too much time indoors can be detrimental to an older person's health since doing so can increase the risks of Vitamin D deficiency. This nutrient is essential to have a strong immune system, and it protects the body from developing osteoporosis, which is common in older adults. Moreover, being inside all day can increase your risk of developing obesity, diabetes, and depression. It may even result in mood swings, crankiness, appetite changes, and sleep issues.
For these reasons, seniors are recommended to go outside and spend some time in a green space. You can sit quietly in a botanical garden to admire the colorful plants and flowers or breathe in some fresh air while relaxing at the beach or by a lake. But to make the most of nature's healing power, try to get some exercise while you're outside.
The CDC recommends adults aged 65 and older get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity. If you break this down, this means spending 30 minutes a day brisk walking, jogging, hiking, or running. Try walking in a park or beside a wooded area or hiking on an easy trail to start with. As you get used to moving around, gradually increase the intensity of your workout. For instance, you can start going on walks this week, and then brisk walking the following week.
Bring Nature into Your Home
There will be times when it's difficult or impossible for you to be outside. Perhaps the weather conditions are too harsh for you to stay outdoors, or maybe you've gotten ill and can barely muster the energy to get out of bed. For times like these, plan ahead and bring nature into your home. Doing so can bring cheer to your abode, clean indoor air of toxins, and make you feel happier. Try adding some potted plants to your living space– house plants such as snake plants, spider plants, aloe vera, pothos, and peace lilies are very easy to care for, and they add a nice touch of green to your home. You can also decorate your house with vases filled with fresh flowers and keep your windows open to encourage proper air circulation.
Aging comes with a host of health conditions. Fortunately, nature provides ways to ease symptoms and improve our health as we get older. Try these tips to harness the healing power of nature, and live a full, healthy, and happy life.
This article was written for WHN by Bri Burton, who is a talented wordsmith, an avid blogger, and a health advocate.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
Opinion Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of WHN/A4M. Any content provided by guest authors is of their own opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.
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