The Benefits of Outdoor Activities for the Elderly

As we age we tend to become more sedentary and less likely to spend quality time outdoors. There are exceptions of course, but for the majority of elderly people, simple outdoor activities such as walking for pleasure are no longer a part of their daily lives.

Inactivity in the elderly

The World Health Organisation has stated that one of the major underlying causes of disease and disability is physical inactivity. Most of us are aware that being outside in the fresh air or around nature makes us feel better and more focused. And Kaplan, a leading psychologist specialising in environmental psychology, has found evidence to support this hypothesis. He has demonstrated that exposure to natural environments has a profound ability to lift people’s moods and increase their ability to focus, particularly in times of mental stress.

Research has also shown that easy access to outdoor environments and participating in outdoor activities, significantly increases older people’s quality of life. And easy access to the outdoors is an important factor for the elderly, because many older people do not feel safe outdoors .Poorly maintained pavements, fear of crime, too much traffic, lack of public toilets and insufficient seating areas – are all problems that compromise outdoor activities for the elderly.

Promoting outdoor activities in the elderly

Physical activity has been shown to reduce blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels and reduce body weight. There is also clear evidence that a health promoting environment to tackle physical inactivity, can lead to fewer chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

And as more and more of our elderly are entering aged care facilities, maintaining some form of outdoor activities is important to their ongoing physical and mental health.

That is why aged care facilities need to have well designed outdoor facilities that encourage residents to participate in physical activities. A number of design features have been shown to significantly impact the amount of time elderly residents spend outdoors in aged care facilities. These are:

  • High accessibility to the natural environment
  • Clearly marked entranceways to outside areas
  • Safe, level and well maintained paving and walkways
  • Round trip walkways, from one entrance to another
  • Sufficient seating or rest areas
  • An aesthetically pleasing environment

And this is why Palm Lake Care is a leader in the field of aged care facilities. They have designed their first class facilities around numerous outdoor living spaces, which can be seen from most rooms.

To achieve their goal of inspired living, Palm Lake Care incorporated skilled landscape designers to create gardens that encourage their residents to spend as much time as possible outdoors socialising, walking or just enjoying the view.

For more information about making a lifestyle change, call Palm Lake Care on 1800 246 677, email us at help@palmlakecare or complete our online enquiry form.