As the cold begins to bite and the long winter evenings signal that the low temperature are here to stay for a while, it’s time to turn our attention to those outdoor activities that will keep us mentally and physically active during the winter months.
However, for seniors these months can pose some unique challenges . As we age our circulation is simply not as efficient as it was in our younger years – or even middle age – so the cold can be extra biting. There is also the fact that the immune systems of older people is weakened, and this makes those in their Golden Years more susceptible to illness.
Add to this the fact that bones become more brittle as we age and that muscle strength can decrease and it becomes apparent that finding outdoor activities that are suitable for seniors when the temperatures plummet can be a real challenge.
However, that is not to say that such activities do not exist. Far from it. There are plenty of winter activities that will not overly tax those of advancing years. Such activities are vital if seniors are going to stay both mentally healthy and physically fit.
Here are some great, creative and safe outdoor winter activities for seniors that are not only healthy for mind and body – but that are quite simply fun – and can often be enjoyed by both the older members of the family, friends, and loved ones.
1. Get Cooking – Outdoors!
Cooking features high on the list of great family activities that can keep everyone entertained – and the creativity that can be involved in an outdoor cooking experience is great for keeping the mental processes flowing. Of course, the bonus is that everyone gets to spend some quality time enjoying a fabulous meal once the barbecue (or any other type of cooking) is done.
Not up for a whole barbecue? Build a fire and roast some marshmallows or make some s’mores!
2. Explore a Winter Wonderland
Just because the weather has turned chilly there’s no reason not to explore the wonders that Mother Nature has provided even in the coldest of months.
For those seniors who are lucky enough to live in a region where snow is a daily fact of life the sheer pristine beauty of nature that can be encountered during a walk outside will provide a new appreciation for our natural world.
Even in those areas that are not blanketed with snow the opportunity to see others and stretch the legs is something that is invaluable for continued mental and physical wellbeing.
However, seniors should always wrap up in warm clothing and ensure that extremities such as the head, hands, and feet are protected from the cold. In very cold temperatures, a warm beanie, perhaps a chemical handwarmer and gloves and woolen warm socks are recommended (and that’s not only for the older members of the family).
3. Enjoy Family
There are few things in life as uplifting as seeing the young outdoors in the colder weather. Playing a gentle game of catch, or joining the younger members of the family walking the dog is a fabulous way to enjoy the outdoors during the wintertime. Be sure to wear appropriate winter boots for the elderly to reduce the chance of falling.
In the snow, things can become even more fun as the kids learn to toboggans or build that snowman. The bonus is that, whether or not there is snow there’s always the chance to add some great photographs to the collection.
4. Take in a Movie
It may seem like a strange idea, but for those seniors who have access to their own back yard – or the backyards of friends and family, having an outdoor movie night is something that will create memories that will last a lifetime. This is an activity that needn’t cost a fortune – you can get as cozy and intimate as you’d like or shoot for the stars.
A big-screen TV on the porch and some warm blankets are fabulous. Take it one step further and hire (or borrow) a projector that plugs into a laptop and some speakers that do the same. Find a blank wall or go old school and hang up a sheet and the result is an outdoor theater (if there is snow on the ground and some willing younger hands a passable screen can be constructed using the white stuff – and seniors can also get involved).
Then all that needs to be added is marshmallows and hot chocolate and everyone who attends from young to old will have the time of their life. The addition of a backyard or patio heater can really make the difference (or a firepit / aboveground fire, which makes the marshmallow experience much more authentic). (See my recommended safe heaters for seniors in this guide)
The great thing about this outdoor activity is that seniors have easy access to all the comforts of the indoors, including those extra blankets and a restroom (this may be as important to the younger members of the party).
5. Visit an Outdoor Attraction
It may come as a surprise to some people but those beloved attractions that were so popular during the summer months may be open and welcoming visitors during the winter season.
Take for instance botanical gardens. Most of them offer the perfect mix of indoor and outdoor fun. They can expose nature lovers of all ages to winter wonders that sometimes escape our attention, such as the beauty of evergreen trees and even winter birdwatching for seniors who might be surprised by the species that hang around for the snow.
6. Go to the Beach
Any senior that lives near the ocean should set aside some time during the colder months of the year to visit the beach at least once during the season.
It may seem like the beach is more suited to lounging about in the sun and dips in the ocean, but there is a majesty to the stretches of sand and the sometimes rough seas that can be tremendously calming, especially when one begins to feel the pressures of cabin fever bite.
Access to a boardwalk or an established waterfront walking meander can make the experience that much more special. It may not be ice-cream weather, but a cup of something hot and a view over the water can be tremendously rewarding.
7. Get Wet
An unheated pool is definitely not on the cards during those cold winter evenings.
However, there are plenty of spas (as well as friends and family) that may just have a hot tub available. Even if the ground is covered in snow (or there is simply a chill in the air) a winter hot tub experience can be great for loosening senior muscles that have become a bit too used to a sedentary life indoors.
Sitting in a hot tub provides the perfect opportunity to catch up with friends and family, or simply enjoy the sound of laughter. Refreshments are always close at hand, as is good company. A winter hot tub experience is the perfect relaxing experience – and an antidote to stress, aches and pains.
Make The Most of Outdoor Winter Activities As Seniors
The key to making the most out of the winter experience as a senior is to keep both mind and body active. Simply sitting indoors and watching the world go by day after day, as those days get shorter leads to seasonal depression – and can also adversely affect the body.
With an open mind – and a healthy attitude winter need not be boring, in fact, it can be the perfect opportunity to explore the world – and rediscover why family and friends are so important.
If there is a senior in our life make some suggestions – and join in the fun. You never know what winter wonders the entire family can discover together.