Summer is the perfect time to get outdoors and take advantage of all that Florida has to offer. However, the Florida heat can be brutally hot and extremely dangerous. This often poses a health risk for many seniors. But regardless of the rising temperatures, providing that you are safe and take precautions, there are still plenty of summer activities that are safe for older adults to enjoy.
1. Swim Some Laps
What better way to beat the heat than taking a nice refreshing dip in the water? Water-based activities, such as swimming and water aerobics, are great for older adults. These fun summer activities not only help keep you in shape, but they are low impact, so they aren’t hard on your body and joints.
This makes it possible for seniors with arthritis or stiff joints to work out without enduring agonizing pain. Water exercises are also great for building muscle mass and increasing bone density – two things we constantly have to keep in check the older we get.
2. Go for a Walk in Nature
There’s something about fresh air that just energizes the body. And when you add in the Florida sunshine and beautiful nature landscapes, it doesn’t get any better. Walking, like swimming, is another low-impact activity that gets your heart rate up slightly without causing too many aches and pains. In fact, walking actually helps to loosen the body up and relieve pain.
In addition, walking offers numerous other health benefits. Studies have found that individuals who walk regularly have improved cardiovascular health as well as mental health. Nature walks, more specifically, have been linked to more positive feelings and lower levels of depression. Inhale… exhale…!
If you’re not able to get to a park or nature trail for a leisurely stroll, you can still benefit just by taking a relaxing walk in your neighborhood. Mix your path up from time to time for something different. Also, take the opportunity to ask others to walk with you. It can be a fun activity for you and your friends to enjoy together. Just make sure you walk in the morning or early evening to escape the daily high temps.
3. Tend to Some Plants
If you enjoy the outdoors and like to get your hands dirty, gardening is the perfect summer activity. It is a fun solo activity that helps to keep you engaged and increase mobility and strength. In addition, gardening often provides a purpose for many older adults. It can be extremely satisfying watching something you created and nurtured grow. And if you plant a fruit or vegetable garden, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Cultivating a garden also provides numerous health benefits. Studies have found that gardening can lower levels of cortisol while also increasing serotonin. This, in turn, reduces stress and boosts your mood. Gardening has also been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and related forms of dementia. One of the best things about gardening for seniors is that it is adaptable and can be modified to fit your needs and a variety of abilities. They even make light gardening tools if you don’t have the strength for some of the heavier tools.
4. Capture the Moment
Photography is a great way to not only capture beautiful moments but also to enjoy nature. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take pictures. And nowadays you don’t even have to have a fancy expensive camera. If you have a smartphone, you more than likely have a sufficient camera you can use to snap some pics while on your walk.
Taking photos allows you to live in the moment and be aware of your surroundings. It helps to give you a renewed appreciation for things. You’ll see the birds, plants, and beautiful landscapes from a new point of view – the lens. And depending on how your pictures turn out, you may have some new art for your home.
5. Join a Pickleball Team
If you’re competitive and have the strength and agility, check out some of your local pickleball leagues. Pickleball is an up-and-coming sport amongst older adults. If you like tennis, you’ll love pickleball. Pickleball is a court-based sport similar to tennis but is a little more manageable for the senior population. Instead of a tennis ball and racket, it uses a plastic Wiffle ball and a lightweight, paddle-shaped racket. And, you don’t have to worry about running around the entire tennis court, as pickleball only uses a small portion of the court.
This sport has grown in popularity over the past several years. Senior leagues are popping up all over the place. In addition to promoting socialization and fun, pickleball enhances balance and flexibility as well as increases upper body range of motion. Most public parks now have pickleball courts available. Rules are easy to pick up, and it’s a fun activity for all ages.
Be Safe, Be Smart – Have Fun
Just because it’s hot doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some safe and fun summer activities for older adults outside. You just have to be smart. If you’re going to be outside, plan accordingly. Don’t go out when the sun is at its strongest. Limit your time in the midday sun. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Try to avoid being outdoors during those times, especially if you’re not in the shade.
Plus, don’t forget to stay hydrated. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, sip on some water. The heat can cause you to become dehydrated quickly and without you even knowing it. Be safe and have fun!