Safely Enjoying Spring Weather

As the weather continues to warm up, our ageing community can keep active and healthy by soaking up the sun – or not!

By Barrett White


After a particularly difficult winter season here in southeast Texas, a fresh breath of spring air is a welcome change! It’s also the perfect opportunity to get some outdoor activity in with our ageing friends, neighbors, and loved ones. Stepping outside holds many of the same health benefits for our ageing loved ones as it does for the youngsters: light exercise and socialization first and foremost, which are incredibly important for healthy senior living.

“Outdoor activities such as walking, gardening, and yard maintenance work are ways to help prevent and alleviate depression and heart disease, forestall cognitive decline, and overall improve quality of life,” says Dr. Hattie Henderson, family practice physician at Legacy Community Health.

Thankfully, there are many outdoor activities that a senior and friend, family member, or caretaker could do together.

  • Check out an art market
    • Houston is a mecca for art shows. It seems like every weekend, there’s another one! Perhaps you’ll stumble across one in Montrose or The Heights, but no matter where you attend one you’re sure to experience a day of music, community, and of course local art – not to mention vitamin D from the sun. You could start your art market journey with The Heights’ long-running First Saturday Art Market.
  • Consider taking up photography
    • Photography is both fun in the moment, and enjoyable later when reviewing your captures! Spend some time walking around your community, downtown, or a local park and snap your best shot of whatever catches your attention. Go in the morning to watch the community wake up, or try the afternoon to see it during the midday buzz.
  • Go for a walk
    • Walks are a great way to stay active. In fact, you could pair your walk with your photography hobby from above, if you chose. In any case, it’s recommended that seniors aim for 30 minutes of activity per day, so why not get some air around the community?
  • Beautify the home by gardening
    • Gardening is a great way for seniors to stay active and maintain strength and flexibility. It’s also a great way to bring some color to the home with an array of flowers – or you could garden herbs and veggies, which is kind of like having a tasty prize at the end of your hobby. The Spruce offers suggestions on easy starter house plants for those who don’t have much experience caring for leafy friends.
  • Take in the spectacle at an outdoor theatre performance
    • One of the most beloved theatre organizations in Houston is the Miller Outdoor Theatre. Attending a performance at Miller – always outdoors and always free – is great for the soul. Seating for the Miller Theatre is on a grassy hill, so be sure to bring a picnic blanket or a comfortable outdoor chair to enjoy the performance from.

Maybe the senior citizen in your life isn’t much the outdoorsy type – that’s fine! There are plenty of alternatives to outdoor activity that can be enjoyed indoors.

“Indoor activities such as yoga, joining a book club via your local library, volunteering in your community, teaching a favorite pastime to a new generation – like embroidery, photography, model building, chess, baking, or quilting – are ways to decrease isolation, improve memory, and help with stress and depression,” Dr. Henderson says.

  • Pick up the video game controller
    • No, we’re not kidding. Nintendo’s Wii and Switch are different from other videos games in that instead of playing while sedentary, one can play a whole range of games that involve physical activity, such as Wii Sports or even some of the Mario Party games on Switch.
  • String some beauty together
    • Picking up a hobby like jewelry making can help seniors improve fine motor skills and provide an outlet for creativity. The bonus with a craft like this is that you get to wear your creation, or gift or sell it!
  • Tell your story
    • We’ve all got a story to tell. There is not much out there more dignified and meaningful than compiling your stories, photos, and mementos into a scrapbook, story, or other creative outlet. If you’re not a senior yourself, but are assisting with the life story of an ageing loved one, do them the honor of listening as they reflect and share.
  • Try out a book club
    • Perhaps the indoorsy senior in your life is a big bookworm. If that’s the case, consider joining a local book club where they can read through novels with likeminded folks, share opinions, and keep their wits sharp in the process. Virtual book clubs may also be an option for the time being.
  • Types of Exercise to Try
    • Just because you’re in your home doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a healthy workout. Prior to starting a new workout regimen, it’s important to discuss a strategy with your doctor. The four main types of exercise that are recommended to seniors are:
      • Aerobic exercises that increase your breathing and heart rate
      • Strength exercises
      • Balance exercises
      • Flexibility/stretching exercises

With any activity inside or out, double check with the senior that they’re comfortable with the activity you have in mind. If opting to spend some time outdoors, keep in mind that some seniors suffering from allergies need to be given a little extra care. Above all, have fun!