When warm weather comes around each year, people of all ages break free of cabin fever and start to explore outdoors. It's a great time of year to get more active, and more exposure to sunshine and exercise can be a great balm for a soul that might have suffered from winter doldrums. Here are nine ways seniors can add more movement to their days as spring warms up the world and the calendar moves toward summer.
Walking is such a mundane activity that many people don't realize how many benefits can come from simply shuffling your feet a bit more each day. According to Harvard Health, benefits from increasing your step count daily include:
• Boosting immune functions
• Cutting down carb and sweet cravings
• Reducing risks of issues such as breast cancer
• Decreasing certain types of joint pain
Even a short daily walk can be helpful in managing weight or cardiovascular function, and you can do this activity almost anywhere. Walk around your yard, your neighborhood or a local park. Get into the habit during spring, and it carries over into months when the weather might not be so inspiring.
If you want to add a bit more adventure to walking, consider looking for a place to hike through the woods. Hiking options can range from paved paths through wooded areas in a local park to rugged paths over hills or up mountains.
Before you start any type of rigorous activity, including intermediate or advanced hiking, consult with your doctor to ensure this activity level is right for you. It's also a good idea to ensure you have the right clothing and equipment and do these activities with others for safety reasons.
Cycle around your neighborhood or get out into country roads with friends. Older adults who love the idea of cycling but are worried about balance might consider an adult tricycle.
Kayaking is a great workout option that lets you enjoy the water during warmer months and see areas of lakes and ponds you can't explore from the shoreline. Inflatable kayaks make it easy for anyone to store and transport the right equipment, and kayaking can be adapted to fit various mobility limitations that might come with the aging process.
When spending time on the water, do so with a companion or friends for safety. It's also important to follow other good safety practices, such as wearing a life vest at all times when kayaking.
Racquet sports can be a competitive and fun way to spend a spring afternoon, but tennis and racquetball are often high-impact. Older adults looking for a game that's just as fun but a bit friendlier to wrists, elbows and shoulders might consider badminton.
You can get sets including nets, racquets and shuttlecocks from department and sporting goods stores for fairly low prices. These portable game setups can be used in your backyard or in open spaces at local parks. And for older adults that decide to make a home in an independent living community, badminton sets can typically be set up quickly in a flat area of the grounds for a shared game on a Sunday afternoon.
Golf is a great way to get outdoors and moving during warmer months. Tee off at a local course and walk your way through nine or 18 holes. You can also rent a golf cart to reduce how much walking you do if you're worried about endurance or mobility. Simply making your way through each green still adds movement to your day.
For those that aren't up to tackling an entire golf course or aren't avid golfers, a round of minigolf can be fun and still involves movement.
Spring is a great time to till, weed and plant. While you're bringing a flower or vegetable garden to life, you're also doing a lot of movement with your entire body. Make sure to wear a hat and appropriate clothing and sunscreen to protect your skin from UV rays.
In many locations, spring can be the best time of the year to explore your town or city. Visit botanical gardens, zoos, farmers markets or any other area you are interested in before the weather heats up enough to make outings less comfortable. Consider scheduling a weekly outing to ensure you get out of your home and moving on a regular basis.
Involve others in getting more active during the spring. Play games or go on walks with grandchildren, or schedule picnics or zoo trips with friends or family. Enjoying a vibrant lifestyle together is a great way to stay mobile and care for your body.