senior woman gardening

In the words of Anne Frank, “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside.” And doctors and researchers are saying the same thing: the outdoors are good for you. Besides generally improving your mood, getting outside helps both mind and body. Here are a few surprising benefits of the great outdoors:

Brain function

Spending time outdoors is linked to a wide variety of mental benefits. One study showed that spending time in open outdoor spaces decreased incidents of aggressive behavior among Alzheimer’s patients. Other studies note that outdoor activities may improve concentration skills and creativity, and may even help you to wake up in the morning.

Vitamin D

Many seniors are at risk of vitamin D deficiency, which may contribute to osteoporosis, diabetes, and other health problems. While many foods have been fortified by vitamin D, most people obtain about 80-90% of their vitamin D through the sun. Sunlight converts cholesterol into vitamin D, which makes it a natural source of this necessary supplement. Since our need for vitamin D doubles after age 50, getting outside is a critical part of helping seniors to obtain their needed daily dose of those golden rays.

Less stress

People who live in areas with green space or who spend more time outdoors report lower stress levels than those who live in urban areas. According to one study, a mere 5 minutes a day spent outside doing some form of light exercise is enough to boost your mood and self-esteem. More sunlight is also tied with reduced risk of depression. Maybe it’s the colors or the breeze, but it seems that nature both calms us and cheers us. Like Anne Frank said, going outside may be “the best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy.”

Easy exercise

Being outside makes exercise easier. Perhaps it’s the constant change of scenery or the breeze on your face, but the outdoors, particularly green spaces, make it easier to get moving. A study of older adults found that those who exercised outdoors exercised longer and more frequently than those who exercised indoors. Getting outside may help seniors exercise more easily and more frequently.

Going out this summer is simple, and while you’re taking a dip or taking a walk, your mind and body will be thanking you.