Low Impact Ways For Seniors to Connect with Nature

By: Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

Seniors can experience the great outdoors without being “outdoorsy” or athletic. Use this list of low impact ways to connect with nature to get out of the house and back out in nature… and the world around you.

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Some people have an image in their head of nature being one of those areas that only young people really get to enjoy, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! Even if you’ve never been a big camper or considered yourself the “outdoorsy” type, there are many good reasons to change your tune and look towards what the great outdoor has to offer.

Studies have shown time and time again that spending time in nature is good for you. Sometimes the studies give walking in the woods (or even the park) fancy names like “forest bathing” or just talk about the benefits of walking outside, period. Connecting with nature doesn’t have to be a stressful or high impact situation. Quite the contrary, there are many great ways that seniors can enjoy these benefits and the simple quality of life that comes from even a little bit of time up and about in the great outdoors.

The following are some fantastic low impact ways for seniors to get out and enjoy everything that nature has to offer.

rear view of senior couple walking in summer countryside

Walking

Walking is a low impact way to get a little bit of exercise, experience some pretty amazing health benefits, and is one of our favorite ways to enjoy nature. No matter where you live, there are some great places to walk. Small towns have parks, as do cities of all sizes, and if you use Google and local online resources to see just how many parks are around you’ll probably be amazed.

Even many states that aren’t necessarily known for wilderness like Iowa and Kansas tend to have a lot of great county-level and state-level parks that you might not even know exist but provide really remarkable experiences with nature complete with areas full of benches or tables to sit down or gentle hiking/walking trails so you can feel immersed in nature without having to go way out of your way.

Gentle exercise with an excellent connection with nature. That’s a win-win!

If you find, as many do, that you end up loving walking and that your walks continue to get longer and longer, then you will want to take a look at hiking and see what some local trails have to offer. Whether rural or urban, hiking trails or walking trails look to find the best and most beautiful little areas of a region to enjoy.

Many areas have hiking clubs, and many areas also have senior hiking clubs, which surrounds you with interesting social people who know the area and have already done a lot of the leg work (pun intended) to find the best trails that will suit your fitness level and might pique natural interests of yours.

senior man birdwatching with binoculars

Birdwatching

Birdwatching is a great way for seniors to spend some time outside while also learning about local wildlife. We’ve all had that experience of seeing an unexpectedly bright and beautiful bird right out the window or off to the side. Whether you’re a fan of blue jays, cardinals, or gold finches, there are many amazing beautiful birds out there and learning to look for each one is a great way to notice the world around you while also training yourself to see those rare beautiful birds.

Depending on where you live you might even get the occasional look at a rarer bird like a hawk, eagle, or even the very occasional owl out during the day.

senior man using a camera outdoors

Photography

Digital cameras actually make it much easier than ever to take really beautiful photos, and where can you find more inspiration than out and about in nature? Cameras are lightweight, even a smartphone can be a top notch camera, as well. Catch some pictures of the birds you manage to spot while bird watching, get that perfect sunrise or sunset photo, or just hit those special moments where everything looks beautiful.

Photography is a great hobby, it’s easier to get into than ever, and it also can be a great way to record the events of the day. It also helps make sure you have a camera around when you run into an old friend or want to capture some time spent with family.

Local Historical Walks

Learn more about your local history. Whether this is the history of small town buildings, checking out historic markers in a neighborhood, or whatever, there are many opportunities wherever you live to walk and explore. Whether living in a small town or a large city, history abounds and there are often many small historical societies that work to preserve this history as well as create plaques, monuments, and markers to help educate others.

This is a great way to keep the mind sharp as you learn, help you continue to be invested in the past and present of where you live. This will also lead naturally to meeting others, taking walks, and being engaged outside which reaps a ton of excellent health and mental well-being benefits.

seniors walking and looking at a map on a historical tour

Rent a “People Walker”

This sounds a bit strange at first, but it’s actually a really neat idea. Started by a super-friendly big bearded guy named Chuck the idea has caught on like wild fire. Want some company, some advice on where to walk, or meet someone new who has stories, favorite walking routes, and enjoys company? People walking is a really cool idea.

This can help keep you accountable, has you meeting new people, and is a really cool way to match up for a mile or two. Young people are happy to walk and earn a little extra money socializing outdoors while you get company, meet a fresh new face, and get to enjoy walking around outside. This is one of those great win-win deals all the way around, and makes it kind of hard to believe no one thought of such a great idea earlier!

Meet Chuck, the “Original” People Walker:

Take a Low Impact Hike on Local State or National Park Trails

Take a look at what parks are around or close by. While there are state or national parks that are incredibly busy and don’t offer the relaxing experience you might care for, there are also many smaller and lesser known parks. Park rangers are often happy to take a moment to chat about what the local area has to offer, whether there are guided tours, and have great information on what else is worth checking out in the area. They can also tell you which hiking trails are good for seniors.

Prepare a Local Nature Scavenger Hunt

Some parts of the country have a lot of small out of the way waterfalls. Others have amazing small county parks off the back roads. Wherever you may live chances are there are many interesting parks, natural landscapes, and other phenomenon worth checking out. With so many hyper-local outdoor blogs it is easier than ever to find a list of places worth visiting or things worth doing and making a list for your own local adventure, which you can enjoy at your own pace.

You never know what local attractions might be hiding just outside of town, as many restoration projects for things like pioneer cabins, old settler cemeteries, local town founder monuments, and other such sites are out in the country or off the beaten path. Even in a city there could be dozens of very small neighborhood parks with monuments to former locals of note.

There are many options out there, and this can also be a great way to bond with family. Watching the grandkids explore nature for a bit, get a bit of education outside of a school setting, and being able to all get out and about while spending quality time together is a great way to get a little more movement outdoors while bonding together.

Summary

Take a look at these ideas and try a few of your own. There are many easy low-impact ways to get moving and to enjoy connecting with nature a bit and a little effort can pay off incredible dividends when it comes to getting the most out of precious outside time.

Do you know of other low impact ways for seniors to connect with nature? Tell me about your experiences and recommendations in the comments below!

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