The Outdoors and Your All Important Health
In what’s shaping up to be a great development for seniors, the cap on physical therapy under medicare is set to be lifted, potentially improving the welfare of millions of seniors, according to NPR. This has the knock on effect of improving independence and what could be a crucial factor – being able to get outside.
The great outdoors and its natural environments, when brought into the home and into regular contact, can benefit health in great ways just like eating the right food. Here’s why, and how you can bring nature into your life on a regular basis.
Bringing the outdoors into the home
It’s accepted that for many seniors, getting out and about outdoors isn’t feasible on most days of the week. A study reported by CNN found that living near nature could prolong life by as much as 12%. However, what this study found was that it doesn’t mean you need to be able to walk out of your front door and into the forest. Instead, just having elements of nature in and around your home like front and back garden water features and vegetation around your home can give a sense of well being that brings dividends. You can bring nature into your home and benefit just as much as actually going out on the trail.
Having a clear mind and your health
One of the most oft cited benefits of nature is that it provides a sense of relaxation. The sounds and smells of nature are just that – natural – and can help to alleviate fears in the mind and body. Techniques like meditation and mindfulness follow much the same idea. They seek to isolate your body’s natural rhythms and to push thoughts away for a time, allowing you space to relax. Harvard Health found that mindfulness meditation may ease anxiety and stress, and the outdoors and natural environments are the perfect host to such pastimes. This is especially important today, as Mental Health America have found that nearly 6% of America’s seniors are diagnosed with a form of depression or anxiety.
Your physical body and the outdoors
Even the most gentle outdoors trail in America will be a testing physical exercise. While you might not move that fast, or that high, the often uneven ground and range of steps make for a full-body workout. Even in the home, getting involved with nature and gardening is a great way for seniors to stay physically well – and has the bonus effect of inspiring psychological health through the sense of accomplishment and challenge it provides. A study by the American Society for Horticultural Science even found that gardening could provide ‘high to moderate’ physical activity.
The great outdoors can present itself in the home and outside, and further afield through trails, treks, mountains and valleys. Even taken at a slow pace in the home, building a connection with nature will be of benefit to your all round health.