11 Fun Free or Low-Cost Spring Activities for Seniors to Get Outdoors
Hannah Kaye, MSW, LCSW, and her fellow Behavioral Health Specialists in North Carolina provide ideas on low-cost outdoor spring activities for seniors to enjoy.
The verdict is in: going outside is good for your physical and mental health, and sunlight in particular can have multiple positive effects. You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy the great outdoors either! Here are some low-cost outdoor spring activities for seniors that our Behavioral Health specialists put together to help you spend more time with the people who mean the most to you.
- Wheelchair Accessible Trails
Wheelchair accessible trails are a great way to get outdoors. Even if you do not require a wheelchair, you can rest assured that these trails will be wide and paved, reducing the likelihood of falls or slips on roots or rocks. Also, wheelchair accessible trails tend to be a shorter distance. Here is a list of wheelchair accessible trails all over the US.
Even if the forecast isn’t for sun, being outside can still reduce anxiety. Cloud-watching is a wonderful free way of connecting with nature. Perhaps combine cloud-watching with deep breathing for a meditative experience.
Stargazing and meteor shower watching are excellent ways to take advantage of cool outdoor time as the days get warmer and warmer. The American Meteorological Society keeps a list of meteor showers and other astrological events. Check to see upcoming astrological events. For example, the Eta Aquariid meteor shower is currently happening through most of May.
4. Walking Games
Did you know you could be rewarded for walking? Walking games are technology-assisted games that reward you for walking outside and exploring the neighborhood. You may have heard your grandchildren talk about Pokemon Go, but Pokemon Go, Ingress, and Geocaching are all ways for people of all ages to see old surroundings through new eyes. Feel free to team up with grandchildren, friends, or others for maximum fun. Pokemon Go and Ingress are free, and Geocaching has a $30/year premium membership option.
5. Bird Feeder Watching
One 2017 study found that people who watch birds at a bird feeder reported lower anxiety and depression than those who did not. This activity is great because it can be done outdoors on a deck or patio or indoors from the comfort of your living room, depending on where you have your feeder set up. A cheap bird feeder can cost as little as $11 and 8 pounds of birdseed for $13, and $24 in exchange for an entire year's worth of nature exposure isn’t half bad.
6. Going to the Farmer’s Market
A three in one deal: you get to people-watch (some farmers markets are full of cute kids and dogs), purchase healthy seasonal fruits and vegetables, and get some Vitamin D. Some farmer’s markets have a carnivalesque atmosphere with live music as well. You don’t even need to buy anything.
Connect with nature and spend some time outdoors. Gardening is a great spring activity for seniors that does not need to be expensive – some people give away free perennial cuttings or nodules for free on websites like NextDoor or Facebook. Start with a 5-gallon bucket garden on the cheap if you are in a small space or don’t want to bend over.
Do something we do every day (eat) and make it an outdoor activity. Picnicking is a great way to combine social activity with outdoor activities. It might be a good way to use some of those vegetables and fruit you bought at the farmer’s market!
9. Volunteering outdoors
Give back, socialize, and embrace nature. There are too many outdoor volunteer activities to name, but Volunteer Match is a great place to find opportunities. If volunteering outside sounds labor intensive, Volunteer Match also maintains a list of virtual volunteer opportunities and you could step outside on your porch or balcony and make volunteer phone calls, etc, in the great outdoors. If you also google your city name and “community garden” or “nature center” or “botanical gardens'' you may find many opportunities to volunteer outdoors.
Thanks to smartphones with built-in cameras, anyone can be a photographer. Outdoor photography is a wonderful way to find a new appreciation of the beauty of nature, and can also be easily combined with many of the suggestions listed above.
Explore local farms. Many local farms offer tours or activities that vary by season, from fruit picking to cider-making to farm-to-table dinners to goat yoga. Google your area and “farm tour” to try to find some events, or try checking this list. Some states, for example North Carolina, keep databases of all the farms that offer tours in the state. Often there is a small fee, but in exchange you may get to pet baby animals, learn about how our food is made, or take home a locally grown product.
At One Medical Seniors, our goal is to keep you as healthy as possible. It’s important to get up and move as often as possible. Ask your health coach or primary care provider any other questions or concerns you may have about how to stay active.
For more information on ways to stay active beyond outdoor spring activities for seniors, check out these five modified yoga poses you can do from the comfort of home.
This article was originally published on May 4th, 2021.
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