Summer is here, and that means getting outside to enjoy the warm weather, fun in the sun, and trying new activities to get your heart pumping. Did you know? Spending time in nature can actually help relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and boost your overall well being 1. Exercising also offers these benefits and many more. Combine the two together and you’re setting yourself up for heart-healthy success!
If you need a few ideas, here are a few fun and easy outdoor activities for seniors to try this summer. We’ve ranked these activities by their level of difficulty, to make sure you find the right activity for you.
As always, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider before trying a new form of exercise. And, remember your limits and don’t overdo it, especially in the warmer weather. Additionally, remember to wear SPF and bring plenty of water and healthy snacks with you to keep you hydrated and energized as you step outside and get moving.
1. Take a Walk in the Park
Level of Difficulty: Easy
You don’t have to commit to a long, grueling hike to reap the benefits that getting outside can have on your overall health. As reported by Time Magazine, research has shown that even spending 20 minutes outside in your local park can have astounding benefits to your wellbeing.
Take advantage of the beautiful summer weather by finding a park near your home or place of work and commit to enjoying a walk there once or twice a month. Or choose a park you haven’t visited yet and enjoy a walk full of discovery. Walking can also be a great social activity - try inviting a friend or two to take a stroll with you!
Getting out into nature shouldn’t be difficult—most cities and towns have decent parks and walking trails, which can be found using a quick internet search. On hotter days, be sure to opt to enjoy your walks in the early morning or early evening, when temperatures tend to be cooler.
Related: The Get-Moving Walking Plan for Beginners
2. Discover Tai Chi’s Mindful Movements
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Tai chi, also known as “meditation in motion,” is a gentle form of exercise that combines movement and stretching with mindfulness. Tai chi is safe and beneficial for people of all ages. In fact, it can actually improve balance, flexibility, and strength, and might reduce the risk of falls in older people.
According to Harvard Women’s Health Watch 2, “Proprioception — the ability to sense the position of one's body in space — declines with age. Tai chi helps train this sense… and also improves muscle strength and flexibility, which makes it easier to recover from a stumble.”
Other benefits of tai chi include:
- It can be easily adapted for anyone
- It’s easy on muscles and joints
- It helps alleviate stress and anxiety
- It may reduce pain and the symptoms of depression
- It can improve stiffness and pain symptoms for those with chronic pain 3
Tai chi is regularly done outside in neighborhood parks, botanic gardens, or any other calming, outdoor location. You can likely find tai chi classes in your area at local asian cultural heritage centers, martial arts studios, recreation and senior centers, and tai chi studios.
3. Cool Off with Water aerobics
Level of Difficulty: Challenging
Water aerobics, or “aquarobics,” is a full-body workout where strengthening and cardio meet water resistance, offering all of the benefits of a regular exercise class in a low-impact setting. Because it allows you to work out your muscles with less stress on your joints, water aerobics classes are great for people with arthritis, joint problems, and circulation issues, as well as those who are overweight. But don’t let the fun-in-the-sun fool you! Water aerobics gets your heart pumping and calories burning.
Other benefits of water aerobics include:
- It’s great for people of all ages and fitness levels
- It helps increase flexibility, muscle strength, and endurance
- It’s a dynamic workout that engages your whole body
- It gets your heart and lungs pumping, supporting cardiovascular health
- Cools you off on a hot summer day
4. Outdoor yoga
Level of Difficulty: Varies
This summer, try taking a yoga class in the park or try our At-Home Yoga Workout in your own backyard! Doing yoga outside combines the restorative powers of yoga with those of nature. According to the US National Forest Service, studies have shown that being out in nature, even on a limited basis, can decrease cortisol levels and reduce stress—and stressing less is an important part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. Outdoor yoga is a great way to incorporate movement into your day and give your body the exercise it needs, all while enjoying beautiful summer weather.
It’s an especially good idea to do yoga because we lose much of our muscle mass and range of motion as we age. But with the stretches and movements of yoga, you can help keep your joints and muscles loose. And because yoga increases balance and body awareness, it can actually help reduce the risk of falls, which is very important for older individuals (much like tai chi).
Some other benefits of yoga are that it:
- Improves flexibility
- Improves breathing and increases energy and vitality
- Promotes mindfulness
- Helps reduce stress
- Helps strengthen and tone muscles
Look for an outdoor yoga class online in meetup groups and Facebook events; new yoga teachers will frequently offer donations-based classes at local parks. Community and fitness centers also offer outdoor yoga classes, and some yoga studios even host off-site yoga classes outdoors too
Read More: At-Home Yoga Workout
5. Head to the Beach
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Studies show that even getting 20 minutes of sunshine can have a positive impact on our Vitamin D levels. The beach is the perfect place to try out all kinds of fun activities while enjoying the summer weather, if you’re lucky enough to live or travel nearby.
You might try building a sandcastle, and if you feel confident enough, plenty of beaches offer sandcastle contests you could enter. If you like to run, and are in shape to do so, running on the beach has particular benefits like increased endurance, higher resistance, and more. Plenty of beaches offer sailboat or kayak rentals, and depending on where you are, you may even be able to take surfing lessons! If that doesn’t sound totally radical to you, you can always just curl up under a beach umbrella with a nice book. No matter what you choose to do at the beach, always remember to wear high protection sunscreen and reapply as needed.
6. Sign Up For a 5K or Fun Run or Walk
Level of Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Participating in a 5K or Fun Run (or Walk) is a great way to get some exercise and enjoy yourself on a summer day, all while supporting a charity or cause! Whether you plan to take things slow, power walk, or run the entire race, getting a fun run on the calendar can be a great way to motivate you to set a fitness goal and get moving over the summer.
If you’ve never done a race before, consider asking a friend to sign up with you! Bonding over a shared goal can help strengthen your friendship, while having someone to share the commitment with can help you stay accountable. Inviting a friend or loved one who is struggling with their fitness journey can also be a great way to inspire them and their health goals!
There are a range of benefits of walking/running, including:
- It strengthens your heart and lungs and tones muscles
- It can help improve your quality of sleep
- It enhances your mood
Ready to get started? Check out our Guide to Participating in a 5K, Walk, or Run. Then check the bulletin boards at your community center, flyers around town, and websites to find a Fun Run to accomplish this summer.
7. Invite Friends Or Family Over For Yard Games
Level of Difficulty: Easy
If going to the recreation center or the park feels like too much of a hassle, there are always fun ways to take advantage of your own yard space. There are so many yard games out there—and plenty that are fun for adults and kids alike. Why not host a cookout at your house and have each household in attendance bring over a fun yard game? You can learn new ways to pass the time, get a little competitive, enjoy some laughs, and have lots of fun in the process.
ICYMI: How to Find New Friends After 65
Try Something New For Your Heart Health This Summer
Summer is the perfect time of year to combine exercising with socializing and enjoying the great outdoors. No matter what fun activities for seniors you try, make sure you get outdoors, stay active, and feel proud of yourself for doing something that supports your heart health this summer.
For more fun ways to enjoy your summer, check out our Bucket List Series of monthly heart health tips on Ubiquinol.org. You can also see how Ubiquinol supports heart health by downloading our Ubiquinol Beginner’s Guide.