Looking to get your aging parents outside for some fitness fun in the sun? Depending on their health conditions and mobility levels, you may be on the hunt for unique outdoor activities that aren’t too strenuous but still offer loads of enjoyment and health benefits. Don’t miss this quick summer-inspired fitness guide for seniors:
Volunteer - outdoor service ideas abound during the sunny summer months so look for opportunities near you like park, neighborhood, and river cleanups, habitat builds, or walking dogs for the local animal shelter. You can search for volunteer opportunities online with free sites like CreatetheGood.org and VolunteerMatch.org.
Outdoor Yoga - relieve everything from back pain to stress to high blood pressure with routine yoga practice. Gentle flowing movements, meditation, deep breathing techniques, and weight-bearing poses make yoga one of the few activities that are good for the core, lungs, heart, bones, and mind!
Water Sports - while surfing the high seas may not be feasible for the senior in your life, safer water fitness definitely is especially in the form of swimming or water aerobics. With friends and family, seniors may also consider canoeing on a lake, kayaking, or even paddleboarding!
Fly a Kite - hit the park with a picnic basket packed full of healthy treats like whole grain veggie sandwiches, black bean salad, and fresh watermelon and bring along a couple kites. Flying kites requires a person to both keep moving and walking around as well as works out focus and attention skills.
Hiking - the uneven and sloping terrain involved in hiking makes it a much more challenging exercise than a brisk walk and implores seniors to use their balance, coordination, and agility skills in addition to strength and flexibility. Hit the trails this summer with a senior in your life!
Dance - did you know that National Dance Day is in July? This could be your chance to learn a simple choreographed dance with your parents or grandparents and participate with people virtually all over the world in celebrating dance and how it promotes health and wellbeing. Learn more from the Dizzy Feet Foundation.
Walk the Dog - if you are a senior who is unable to care for your own dog, ask about walking dogs for other family members or neighbors. Not only does it get you out of the house doing something active, but spending time with dogs, especially well-trained ones, is inherently therapeutic and can provide mood boosts and stress relief too.
Gardening - gardening combines fitness with nutritious eating for the ultimate healthy punch. Get a vegetable and herb garden going this summer with your favorite senior and cultivate lots of fresh healthy seasonal foods like summer squash, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, and melons. Involve your aging parents in sweat-breaking gardening activities too like weeding, planting, digging, hoeing, and even watering with gallon jugs.
Charity Event - support a nonprofit or cause close to your family’s heart by participating in or volunteering at an outdoor charity athletic event like a fun run or walk-a-thon. If you can’t run, it is typically fine to walk these events and there are often opportunities for you to raise money by asking your community of friends and family to “sponsor” you. Find charity athletic events near you on Active.com.
Outdoor Sports - don’t let everyday outdoor sports slip off your list either this summer. Cycling offers a low-impact activity that is exhilarating and relatively safe on residential roads. Golf also may seem a bit easy on the fitness spectrum but can actually require miles of walking when you avoid using golf carts on the course.
Important Summer Fitness Reminders
When it comes to enjoying the outdoors during the summer without paying the price, keep these important tips in mind:
Wear sun protection - with the average age for melanoma diagnoses being 63, it is critical that seniors avidly protect their skin while outdoors. Wear sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30, and don’t forget accessories like hats, long sleeves, and sunglasses!
Stay hydrated - when leaving the house, always take a reusable bottle full of water with you. An age-related diminished sense of thirst can trick the senior brain into skipping much-needed water breaks so when in doubt always have water on your person, set reminders to drink water on your smartphone, and eat lots of water-rich fruits and veggies like cucumbers and watermelon.
Stay cool - seniors can beat the heat by avoiding prolonged outdoor activity when the temperatures are climbing up to the 80s and 90s and using devices like handheld fans, spray bottles, and cooling neck wraps to keep their body temperature at a healthy level. Don’t forget breathable workout gear too that is lightweight and wicks away moisture as well.