Warm weather and sunshine provide seniors with more opportunities to stay active and fit. After long winter months, it’s refreshing to step outdoors and be able to enjoy the warm weather. With summertime comes several benefits to seniors’ health and fitness, but there are also things to be cautious of.
Take advantage of the warm weather and find ways to be outside. It can be challenging to find ways to stay active during the winter, so the summer season brings new opportunities. Here are a few to think about:
- Take a walk outdoors. Take a stroll around your neighborhood or explore local parks. Grab a friend and check out some new places to explore.
- Getting your hands dirty in the garden is a great way to spend time outside. Grow some bright flowers, herbs, or fresh vegetables in your garden. Consider a raised garden bed or window boxes if your mobility is limited.
- Try an outdoor exercise class at your local senior center, like Uptown Social or Generations in Plymouth. It’s a great way to stay in shape and meet new people! See if the local senior center offers any outdoor aerobics or yoga classes.
- Try out some yard games like horseshoes or mini golf.
- Enjoy the water? Try a water aerobics class at a local pool! Some local gyms have outdoor pools with summer classes.
Be mindful about the time of day you choose to engage in these activities. Early in the morning or later in the evening are often cooler. At the high point of the day, it is important to do low-impact exercises, even indoors.
Be sure to find a place in the shade to get fresh air while out of the direct heat. If it is too hot, stay away from activities that may be too strenuous. Here are some activities to try in the shade:
- Sit in the shade with a good book. To stay social, check out the local library to see if there’s a summertime book club to join.
- Bring some music outdoors to sit and enjoy.
- Bring a favorite board game or puzzle outdoors.
- Enjoy a meal outdoors like a picnic or on the patio.
- Attend a community event outdoors such as a concert or farmer’s market
Soaking Up Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps protect our bodies and prevent diseases. The most efficient way to absorb Vitamin D is by having the sun directly touch the skin. To absorb enough Vitamin D, however, it would take about 30 minutes in direct sunlight twice a week. Having a combined balanced diet and time spent outside helps you get the Vitamin D you’ll need to live a healthy lifestyle.
Maintaining Healthy Bones
Poor bone health can be detrimental as it is the most significant cause of hospitalization in older adults. However, a sufficient amount of Vitamin D has been shown to improve bone health. Improvements in bone health can help you avoid falls and positively impact your well-being.
Maintaining a Healthy Mind
Additionally, Vitamin D can improve mental health and mood. Low levels of Vitamin D can increase the chance of depression and decline in cognition. The lack of socializing and activity throughout the winter can affect mental health. So, taking advantage of increased engagement over the summer can be refreshing.
Stay Hydrated & Cool
With all the goodness that can come with the summertime, it’s also important to stay vigilant. Heat and dehydration quickly impact older adults. This is because body temperature does not adjust as quickly in seniors. Some health conditions may also make a person more sensitive to heat.
Be sure to check your medication, as some medicines may make you even more sensitive to the heat. When spending time outdoors, be sure to find a shady area to cool off.
It’s essential to ensure you have access to plenty of cool water. Keep drinking water, and don’t wait until you become thirsty. If you’re not a big water drinker, consider adding in your favorite fruit for some extra flavor.
When choosing a snack, think about options with a high amount of water, like watermelon! Remember that alcohol and caffeinated beverages will work against you and could increase your chances of dehydration.
Protect Your Skin
While we love the warm sun, be sure to protect your skin from sunburns. The CDC recommends
these five things to protect your skin:
- A wide brim hat
- Long pants
- Long sleeves
Keep the sun lotion handy, so you can regularly reapply as needed. Keeping your skin protected can decrease your chances of skin cancer.
Know When to Cool Off
Make sure to listen to your body and know when it is time to take a break and cool off. If you notice any signs of heat stroke in yourself or a loved one, it’s immediately time to go indoors and hydrate. Some symptoms include:
- Not sweating, despite the heat
- Flushed skin
- Change in behavior
Ideally, find a place with air conditioning that you can escape to on a hot summer day. After activities outdoors in the warmth, make sure to plan for time to cool off and relax.
The summertime can bring endless opportunities to put a pep in your step. This summer, try something new to stay fit and have fun! Improve your physical and mental health by increasing your time outside and soaking up the sun.
At Pine Haven Christian Communities, we provide many opportunities for our seniors to live independently and enjoy the outdoors! Learn more about our communities to see if we’re the best fit for you and your lifestyle.