The Healing Benefits of Nature. Plus, Tips for Finding Green Spaces in the Winter
Studies have shown that adults and seniors who frequent the outdoors stay healthier, live longer, and are reportedly happier than those who do not. Adults who spend frequent time outdoors also retain their independence until later in life.
Now that winter is almost here, however, you might find yourself more inclined to stay indoors. While it’s cozy nestled in by the fire, there are many health and wellness benefits to connecting with nature during these rainier months.
Let’s take a look at how nature adds time and energy back into the average adult life, and then brainstorm how to best enjoy Seattle’s winter weather.
The Inner Benefits of Getting Out
Science has learned some key lessons over the years that illustrate the link between nature and physical health:
- Breathing fresh air produces more white blood cells. These are the key force to fighting viruses, infections, and reducing inflammation in the body. Fresh outdoor air is known to contain less contaminants and pollutants than indoor spaces.
- Being outdoors also increases Vitamin D levels, helping boost energy levels for the duration of the day and improving overall mood.
- In another study, memory and attention span increased up to 20% in seniors who spent an hour outside a day compared to those who did not.
- A stronger heart: A study in Chicago noted those who live in neighborhoods with tree and plant life had healthier cardiovascular and metabolic health, on average, than those who lived in areas without accessible green spaces.
- Those who spend time regularly in nature have reportedly lower blood pressure, lower resting heart rate, and less perceived stress than those who did not, another study found.
- Not only can nature be preventive toward potential future health issues, but it can also help lessen what already ails. Studies have found seniors who frequently get outside are able to lessen their recurring health problems and even eliminate chronic pain.
That’s quite a lot of benefits just from being outside.
Now how to get started.
There are a number of ways to get outside and enjoy nature during the winter months:
Find your favorite green and blue spaces
The best places to visit are nearby green and blue spaces. Green spaces are known in urban settings as areas designated for trees and plant life. These parks are important gathering places for the community and a nice place to spend time outdoors. Blue spaces are similar to green spaces but they include water. Whether it be a stream, pond, or the ocean- water has been found to have a meditative effect on many. In Seattle, local lakes like Green Lake offer pleasant areas to wander around during the winter months. The path surrounding the lake is flat and frequented enough to not be icy, and the lake itself is beautiful every time of year.
If you cannot easily go to a green or blue space on your own, try exploring your own yard and surrounding neighborhood. Even walking down the block and back will help.
Watch the weather forecast
Each day, check the weather forecast to look for breaks from the rain. When there is a dry period, take advantage of that time to bundle up and head outdoors! Making this time outside a priority – even if it is just sitting out on a deck or yard, can lead to health improvements. When the rain lets up, you can also use this time to plan activities with others. Whether it’s a walk around the neighborhood or a short hike in a local park or beach, this allows you to enjoy some exercise, get your social fix AND spend some time in the fresh air. You can also put a veranda in your backyard and make a deck with composite materials that make it more durable.
Check out Seattle’s indoor green spaces
On days where the rain just won’t let up, there are a number of indoor nature areas to visit during winter in Seattle.
- The Volunteer Park Conservatory on Capitol Hill is a botanical garden located in a Victorian-style greenhouse. Filled with both desert and jungle plant life, it’s a warm natural respite for the cold months and an amazing architectural display.
- The Seattle Spheres are located in the Amazon headquarters and boast an impressive floral display with over 40,000 plants collective from 30 different countries.
- And lastly, the Woodland Park Zoo is another fun place to visit outdoors that has a number of indoor spaces within it- such as the reptile den and jungle areas.
Really, it doesn’t matter where you go, it matters more that you go. The simple act of being outside and connecting with nature is what invigorates and heals the body. In closing, here is a quote by Hans Christian Andersen: “Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”
Go and find your flowers, you deserve it.
At Era Living, we want to support seniors in staying as healthy as they can to thrive and feel their best. If you are interested in receiving more health and wellness content from our team, sign up for our newsletter below.