It’s pretty widely known that regular exercise and being outdoors is one of the vital keys to maintaining a healthy, happy lifestyle. Unfortunately, as our bodies age, it can become harder and harder to find time or activities that you can participate in outdoors. Luckily, one of best options that’s both easy on the body and the mind, is hiking! Regardless if you want to pursue a very easy, flat-leveled trail that is nearby to your home, or drive a couple hours to find a more exotic location, the options are endless. There are countless benefits to hiking and immersing yourself in nature.
Many seniors enjoy walking with their friends for their daily exercise, so why not take it to a more scenic location? Walking in general has great positives for the majority of seniors today, on top of being free! It helps contribute to the longevity of a senior’s mobility and and overall well-being. A recent study by the American Geriatric Society concluded that elderly individuals who walked for at least 4 hours a week, which equates to about 30 minutes a day, significantly reduced their chance of a negative health event or hospitalization. What many don’t realize is that hiking on the soft ground outdoors is often much, much less stressful on the joints in your body, which is significant for seniors looking to stay away from the unnecessary pounding of asphalt, concrete, and sidewalks.
Positives of Hiking & Being Outdoors
- Improvement of overall blood circulation throughout the body – this is important for maintaining an overall healthier physique, and significantly helps blood flow throughout your lower extremities like your legs and feet.
- Drastic improvements in overall cardiovascular health – as is the case with any form of exercise, hiking can greatly improve your heart’s health and contribute to a longer, healthier, happier life.
- Improvement in the pain associated with joint injuries, arthritis, and other pains such as knees and ankles – walking helps build the bone and muscle around your body, contributing to less pain and stronger joints.
- Overall improvements in mental health and mental well-being – this is a huge positive for all aspects of exercise, but especially hiking, since you are not only exercising and releasing endorphins throughout your body, but you are also outside, in the sunshine, in a beautiful location, which all help to add to the experience of hiking outdoors, leading to lower feelings of depression, and an increased feeling of togetherness with your friends and family.
- It has also been shown that individuals who embark on at least one or two hikes a week have a significantly higher rate of high scores on various memory and reaction time tests – this is a result of a large variety of positive benefits of hiking.
Hiking is not only a great experience alone, but it’s even more enjoyable when you bring family or friends. Hiking and being outdoors is one of the best ways to grow and flourish as both an individual and a family. It’s excellent for joining the many generations of family members, both young and old. Being with family can be a great motivator for seniors to get out and experience some positive exercise. There are many different senior care companies that will also help provide an enjoyable experience for your loved one. Seniors Helping Seniors of Columbus take your senior family member on daily activities with other seniors, helping to foster an atmosphere of companionship and growth.
It’s absolutely vital that you take the time to pick a good hiking trail for your family member, based on their individual needs. If you have a family member that isn’t able to fully handle a trail with ups and downs and many different twists and turns, take that into consideration and start off with a small, flat, fairly moderate trail. As you continue to go on hikes, you can slowly begin to ramp up the trail’s difficulty until it starts to become a great exercise and challenge for all involved.
Of course, when going on any outdoors trip, it’s important to pack the vitals such as a supply of water to stay hydrated, a good pair of hiking shoes to avoid any unnecessary pain, sunscreen for covering up any exposed skin, and a simple emergency kit for taking care of any potential first-aid hazards while you’re out on the trail. It’s also important to let others know that you’ll be going hiking, especially if they will be expecting you later or are the primary caregiver of the senior.