Enjoying the Outdoors and Reaping the Benefits
We are continuing our series on staying socially active later in life. This week we are sharing ideas on outdoor activities seniors can enjoy. In addition to the social benefits derived from these pastimes, there are also health benefits. Being active in the fresh air can help to decrease rates of depression, stimulate memory, decrease stress and reduce muscle and joint pain.
Outdoor Games and Activities for Seniors to Enjoy
From yard games to organized group activities, heading outdoors is a great way to exercise and engage your senses. If you haven’t been physically active for a while, it is a good idea to check with your physician before getting started.
Lawn and Yard Games
There are a variety of lawn games that can be enjoyed by adults of all ages and physical fitness levels. Many are activities multiple generations can enjoy together.
• Croquet – Almost everyone has enjoyed this game at a family reunion or summer picnic. You can play one-on-one with a friend or in teams as part of a competition.
• Bocce – This is a game that dates back to the ancient Egyptians. While it isn’t as common as other yard games, it is simple to learn and great fun to play. It can be enjoyed by 2, 4 or 8 players at a time.
• Horseshoes – Another staple at picnics and outdoor parties is horseshoe toss. In addition to being easy to play, it can help players improve hand-eye coordination.
• Ladder Toss – Also referred to as Ladder Golf, this game has gained in popularity over the past few years. Players toss a bola, which is a rope with two golf balls attached, to try to wrap it around one of the rungs on the game’s ladder. The higher the rung, the more points you receive.
Outdoor Group Activities for Older Adults
When spring brings warmer weather it is a great time to gather a group of friends and loved ones together to enjoy the great outdoors. Here are a few suggestions to help you plan:
• Bird Watching – After a long, cold winter our feathered friends have made their return. Bird watching might sound a little intimidating but it really isn’t. All you need are comfortable walking shoes and binoculars. Your group can meet at a local park, break up in to groups and head out on different trails. You might find it helpful to have a bird book, journal to record what you see and a digital camera.
• Scavenger Hunt – Almost everyone loves a treasure hunt! These can be simple ones you organize at someone’s home or more complicated hunts that involve a larger geographic area. If your group needs help with planning, you can also find companies who make the arrangements for you. They handle everything from picking the theme to awarding prizes to the winners.
• Tai Chi – This ancient form of self-defense is considered to be one of the best forms of exercise for older adults. It helps with muscle strength, balance, fall prevention, stress reduction and much more. Forming a group that meets once a week to practice Tai Chi outdoors can be good fun and good for you. If you can’t find an instructor to lead your group, you might be able to use a laptop and LCD player (aka light box) to project a Tai Chi DVD on to a movie screen set up outdoors.
• Picnic & Games – Another fun way to spend a summer afternoon or evening is to combine a picnic with board games challenges. This allows older adults of all fitness levels to participate. Many local parks have shelters with picnic tables that can be reserved for a nominal fee. If you aren’t sure what games to include in your event, this article from last week might be of interest.
• Host a Garden & Plant Party – Many people enjoy digging in the dirt even if it is just to create a simple container garden. This is a time of year when fellow gardeners may be trying to split plants or dig up a flower bed to make room for something new. Schedule a time for friends and loved ones to get together and swap plants. You can even make it a potluck where everyone brings a dish to pass.
• Farmer’s Market – With the move to buy local and a growing interest in organic foods, more and more local communities are hosting weekly farmer’s markets. They provide seniors with a great opportunity to buy fresh produce and flowers at a good price, as well as a way to enjoy the outdoors with friends.
We hope this has helped motivate you to find ways to enjoy the great outdoors with friends this spring and summer. Check back next week to read about the health benefits of electronics and social media.