While COVID-19 has dramatically altered life for everyone, it has particularly affected the senior demographic. Since the elderly are at a higher risk of complications from the coronavirus, many of them have significantly restricted their usual activities to lower their chances of catching it.
It is true that older adults must do everything they can to protect their health during the pandemic, but it is also vital for them to stay physically and mentally active. During the summer months, that includes getting outside as much as possible in order to breathe in the fresh air. The key is to find outdoor activities that allow for appropriate social distancing and other safety measures. Here are several suggestions that fit the description:
Gardening/Yardwork – Although some older adults may not be mobile enough to dig in the dirt or do strenuous yardwork like raking, there are other options such as potting small plants to be cared for indoors or on a small patio. Gardening is wonderful because it beautifies spaces as well as burning calories and creating a sense of accomplishment.
Walking/Dog Walking – If the weather is nice and there aren’t crowds, a walk around the neighborhood or in a nearby park can be a wonderful way to reduce restlessness and produce immune-boosting benefits. Even walking a dog is helpful and can provide the additional bonus of canine companionship.
Biking – This activity may not be for everybody, but depending on the individual’s health and activity level, biking can be an excellent way to get exercise and fresh air while also taking in a change of scenery. Bike paths aren’t typically very crowded and can provide a scenic view of the area.
Swimming – The cardiovascular and strength training benefits of swimming are undisputed. This low-impact exercise is great for nearly every age and fitness level and can be particularly beneficial for the elderly, who may not be able to do other forms of exercise. If the weather isn’t pleasant, indoor pools are also a nice alternative.
Golfing/mini golfing – Golfing has long been a popular activity for seniors, providing companionship, mental stimulation, and physical exercise without being too strenuous. Golf courses have varying guidelines during COVID-19, but most are currently open. Mini golf is an enjoyable alternative that can offer a different type of challenge.
Fitness classes held outside that allow social distancing – Fitness instructors have had to become creative in order to adapt to the restrictions presented by the pandemic, but many have found a way to still hold classes outdoors, whether on the beach, in a park, or elsewhere. Older adults can look for a class that matches their interests and fitness level to get some exercise and a bit of socialization.
Boating – Getting out on the water is always therapeutic, and taking a boat ride can be a fun, safe activity this summer. Friends or family members who have boats may be able to take seniors out for a ride. Many communities also offer boat rentals or rides.
Take usual indoor activities outside – Board games, crosswords, or puzzles are typically done indoors, but there’s no reason why they can’t be taken outside during the warmer months so seniors can get fresh air and a change of scenery. A porch, patio, or picnic table are perfect spots for doing these kind of activities, as well as for writing letters, browsing on a laptop, or even taking virtual field trips to museums or other locations.
Go out for a treat – Summer is the perfect time to go out for an ice cream or eat a restaurant meal on an outdoor patio. If an older adult wears a mask, social distances, and washes hands frequently, these kinds of outings can be safe and very enjoyable.
While it is true that this summer is very different than most, there is no need for our at-risk population to completely stop all physical or social activities outside of their homes. With a little imagination, seniors can stay healthy and safe during the pandemic while still participating in the exercise and activities they need!