When you were a kid, your mom may have encouraged you to go outside and play. It was good advice. Spending time outdoors offers health benefits for people of all ages, including improved blood pressure and lower risk of type 2 diabetes and stroke. The act of playing offers perks, too, such as helping you cope with stress and improving life satisfaction. Now that you’re older, it’s still good advice to go outside and play. So here are some fresh ideas for senior outdoor activities that offer year-round fun:
1. Start Stargazing
You can enjoy the night sky from a lawn chair in your backyard, glimpsing with the naked eye galaxies that are 2.5 million light-years away. Use a planisphere to help you make sense of what you’re seeing, and use binoculars to boost your viewing power. If you like the experience, consider joining a local astronomy club — you’ll learn a lot and enjoy the camaraderie. Or search out stargazing destinations where your view of the stars won’t be obscured by urban sky glow.
2. Go Geocaching
Use modern technology for an old-fashioned treasure hunt. Simply sign up for an official account to unlock a list of geocaches in your area. Then let the quest begin as you use a GPS-enabled device to find cleverly hidden containers stashed under park benches, in the hollows of trees or in a neighbor’s shrubbery. With more than 3 million active geocaches in 191 different countries, this senior outdoor activity can take you wherever you want to go.
3. Grow Something
You don’t have to hang up your gardening trowel just because the calendar says it’s winter. Playing in the dirt can be a year-round activity. In climates where the winters are relatively mild, a host of cool-season flowers and vegetables will keep your garden vibrant and productive. Try planting winter clematis, pansies or ornamental cabbages, or cool-weather vegetables like beets, lettuces and radishes. In colder climates, winter sowing can help you get a head start on spring.
In addition to a harvest of flowers and produce, you may reap health benefits as well. Gardening is one way to get the recommended 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, which can boost brain health, strengthen bones and muscles, and reduce the risk of certain diseases.
4. Take a Hike
“Afoot and light-hearted…. Healthy, free, the world before me,” poet Walt Whitman exulted in outdoor rambles. Indeed there is a lot to enjoy about a hike. It’s another effective — and fun — way to get physical activity. And it immerses you in the natural world, which researchers are learning can contribute to feelings of health and well-being, especially when you spend at least 2 hours a week outdoors. To find hiking trails suited to your fitness level, search AllTrails.
Hiking can also be a great opportunity to engage in lifelong learning. Bring along a field guide and do some bird watching, or identify herbs or mushrooms along the trail.
5. Become a Shutterbug
Research shows that learning new skills, such as digital photography, can improve memory and cognitive function. Plus, it’s a creative way to engage with the natural world. And with all the outdoor activities you’ll be doing, why not challenge yourself to document your adventures through photography? Through local classes, you can learn to capture the perfect shot and use photo editing tools to enhance your pictures.
Outdoor Adventures Await at Timber Ridge at Talus
At Timber Ridge at Talus, opportunities to enjoy senior outdoor activities are just outside the door. We’re located near the Cascade Mountains, where breathtaking views, nearby hiking trails, and state parks beckon you to enjoy the great outdoors, while a variety of wellness activities — from yoga classes to Aquacise — also provide on-campus opportunities to be busy and engaged. To learn more about the active lifestyle at Timber Ridge at Talus, contact us. Or schedule a visit to explore our wonderful community and enjoy local outdoor adventures for yourself.