Studies from the University of Michigan found that simply being outdoors – walking, biking, hiking or gardening – can lower stress and improve overall health. Doctors have found that even just looking at trees or fields can lower the heart rate. For seniors, it’s keep this list in mind so you can stay safe before going out to enjoy some fresh air.
1. Drink lots of liquids. Pay attention to water intake. Prescription medicine and medical conditions can interfere with the body’s natural ability to stay cool and retain water. Caffeine and alcohol can cause thirst and water loss, so it’s best to avoid them.
2. Exercise. The sun’s rays and heat are at their highest levels between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Exercise during the morning or evening when the weather is cooler and the sun isn’t as strong.
3. Choose lighter foods. Heavy foods make the body work harder, use more water and create more body heat. If it’s already hot outside, choose lighter foods rich in vitamins and minerals. These include fresh fruits, leafy green vegetables, protein-rich foods like lean meats or beans and eggs, and whole grains like brown rice, wheat pasta and bread.
4. Keep safety in mind. Safety is always a concern for seniors while outside. Watch for rocky roads, uneven ground and other dangers while outside. Plan to always have a fully-charged cell phone on-hand when leaving home. Having light snacks and a bottle of water is also a good idea, especially if planning to be out for a longer time frame.
5. Watch out for pests. Ticks and other insects can quietly strike, causing harmful stings or dangerous illnesses, such as Lyme disease. Wear light-colored clothing. This will help identify any bugs that come along for the ride. Check clothing as soon as you return inside and use a lint brush to catch tiny specs that could be ticks. Wear a hat to protect skin and hair from the sun and from insects. If gardening, wear gloves to avoid coming into direct contact with insects in the grass or dirt.
6. Use sunscreen. In addition to wearing clothing that protects you from the sun and outdoor pests, apply sunblock before heading outside. Products that have an SPF of at least 30 guarantee protection against 97 percent of the sun’s rays. Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before heading outside to allow the product to fully sink in and should be reapplied every two hours for maximum protection.
Sometimes, there is nothing better than to relax and refresh. With some simple planning, having fun doesn’t have to be risky. Before going outside, check with your physician first to see if there are any additional precautions you should take before exercising. For more health and wellness tips for seniors, be sure to check out our blog at www.pahealthwellness.com.