By: Kaki Zell
With the weather finally heating up as we head into summer, now is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Some seniors may have certain mobility limitations, but there are plenty of low-impact activities to do during the warm months that won’t stress your body. Indeed, staying active — no matter your age — is one of the best ways to maintain mobility and health. Here are 11 outside activities that seniors can enjoy this summer and beyond:
Take a Dip
Getting in the pool is an excellent workout for anyone, but it’s especially beneficial for those with joint pain, as the buoyancy of the water actually reduces stress on the joints. You can swim laps if you’re feeling up to it, or sign up for a low-impact water aerobics class. If those are still too intense for you, just getting in the pool and moving or paddling around is a great start.
Stroll Around Your City
Walking is one of the simplest exercises around — all you need is a pair of supportive walking shoes, and you’re set. This everyday, low-cost activity offers a host of benefits, from improving heart health to decreasing blood sugar to strengthening your muscles. Try incorporating a daily stroll around your neighborhood after dinner. If you’re already in the habit of a daily stroll and want to shake up your routine, seek out local walking tours so you can learn as you move.
Did you know that one of your favorite hobbies is also good for you? Not only does fishing get you out in nature, it can help improve hand-eye coordination and build muscles in your arms, shoulder, back and legs. Of course, fishing is also an excellent way to relax and de-stress, as well as a great opportunity to either take in some alone time or bond with family or friends, depending on your style.
Attend a Sporting Event
While you may or not participate in sports yourself, summer is a great time to take in an outdoor game and enjoy the weather while you cheer on your team. In-season sports during the summer include soccer, baseball, tennis and golf, and football preseason games start later in the season. Team options include major or minor leagues, colleges, local clubs — and don’t forget your grandson’s Little League team. If you don’t want to sit on the sidelines, you can also consider becoming a referee for a local sports league.
Community Yoga Classes
This low-impact workout has a ton of benefits: reducing hypertension, strengthening bones, staving off weight gain, reducing anxiety, protecting your joints, improving balance and boosting your mind and mood. Once the weather gets warm, many studios sponsor outdoor classes at the park or other outdoor venues, such as the local football stadium. If you have joint issues, an athletic brace can give you the support you need for yoga.
Attend Community Events
Many communities host various events year round, and when warm weather comes, they take these activities outside. Many cities and towns put on fireworks shows and parades around summer holidays, such as Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. Other popular outdoor summer events include concerts, plays, fairs, rodeos and car shows, some of which may be free to attend. Check your local newspaper or neighborhood forum for event postings.
Spend Some Time in Nature
This can be as simple as ambling around the walking path in your neighborhood or paying a visit to the local park or even just sitting on your back porch. If you can, bring along a kite or other activity to the park to pass the time. If you’re sticking close to home, try a low-impact yard game such as horseshoes, cornhole, ring toss or bocce ball.
Pack a Picnic
Speaking of nature, summer is the perfect time to throw some sandwiches in a basket and head to your local park for a picnic. If you’d like to make it into an event, invite some friends and ask each guest to bring a picnic-perfect food that’s easily transportable, such as fruit salad or baked chips.
Many plants and vegetables are in season during the summer, so it’s time to get outside and tend the garden if you have one — and if you don’t have a full-on garden, you can still keep potted plants on your patio or balcony to add some green to your life. Many communities offer a garden club, so check to see if there’s one in your area that you can join to meet fellow garden enthusiasts. If you don’t have a garden of your own, see if you can pick berries or other seasonal fruit at a local farm.
Visit the Zoo
Most zoo exhibits are at least partially outside, so summer is the perfect time to visit them. Not only will you get your steps in, you’ll also meet lots of animals and learn about their habits. Make sure your route goes through inside exhibits, such as the reptile building, to give yourself a break from the sun, and try going either early in the morning or towards the evening to avoid the worst heat of the day.
Go for a Boat Ride
If you live near the ocean, a lake or another body of water, take advantage of your access and go for a boat ride. If you’re not lucky enough to own a boat, check out local companies to rent a craft for the day. And if you’re not up to sailing or paddling your own, see if you can hire a crew to take you out on the water so you can kick back and enjoy the sea breeze.
If you’re not sure how to enjoy the warm weather, these 11 ideas can help get you started. Staying active is critical for maintaining physical and mental health as you age, and getting outside is a great way for seniors to shake up their routine and get some sunshine at the same time.