6 Benefits of Spending Time Outside with Your Elder Relative

Getting outside in the fresh air is a wonderful way to lift your mood and a powerful wellbeing practice that’s beneficial for everyone, from babies through to elders. In this article, we’ll dive a little deeper into the benefits of spending time outdoors, as specifically, how doing this with your older relatives can help to improve physical and mental health for you both, as well as strengthen your connection with one another.

  1. Time Spent Together

Getting outside with your relative can make for the perfect opportunity to bond and catch-up with one another, beat boredom, and stave off any feelings of loneliness. Being out in nature can also encourage the pair of you to meet new people, encounter new things, and inspire different conversations. Even if it’s just a simple “good morning” to those you pass, these interactions can help lift one’s spirits and show that the world doesn’t have to be a lonely place, especially as you get older. If your relative lives with you, or lives nearby, it might be a good idea to schedule in some regular outdoor walks, fishing trips, gardening days, etc. (whichever outdoor activities you enjoy together). If they don’t live nearby, you could consider scheduling a call while you both spend time outside, allowing you to catch-up while both stepping out and committing to your wellbeing.

  1. Improved Sleep

Nothing beats a good night’s sleep. But with 40%-70% of older adults suffering from chronic sleep conditions, getting in those crucial 7-8 hours of shut-eye can be challenging as we age.

However, by spending time outside with your elder relative, you can support them in getting more sleep for several reasons. For one, the outdoors means a break from artificial light, which can cause disrupted sleep. Natural light is also an environmental cue for the body's circadian rhythms, helping regulate our wake and sleep windows. Another benefit is that partaking in any exercise outdoors, even a light walk, can also have the added advantage of helping you to feel more tired at night and better able to fall asleep.

  1. Increased Focus

Everyone battles with the inability to focus from time to time. Perhaps you struggle to concentrate after a morning of back-to-back meetings, or battle to complete a task without taking short consecutive breaks from your screen. With older adults, it’s normal for their general level of focus to dwindle with time. However, by enjoying time in the outdoors, you could both be on your way to improved levels of concentration.

It’s even said that being in nature can have similar effects to meditating. So, next time you’re struggling to concentrate on a project, why not invite your relative out for lunch in the park (weather permitting!).


  1. Reduced Stress

Quality time together outside can be a great tool in managing stress for both your elder loved one and yourself. Again, be it a stroll or simply some time sat in the garden together with a cuppa between work calls or running errands can help to clear your mind. These breaks offer a reprieve from stressful situations and can help to regulate your mood and outlook. By simply being in nature, you can lower your stress hormone, cortisol, as well as reduce muscle tension in the body. Studies show that even 20 minutes of being outside can help to cut stress levels.

  1. Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

As well as the array of mental benefits, spending time outside can improve your physical health too. A run or cycle might not be feasible for you or your family member but, if possible, even a short walk can help you to see some of the physical advantages of being outside such as improved heart health.

If mobility is a barrier, you can still reap some rewards by simply being outdoors. Sunlight exposure increases nitric oxide production, which, in turn, can help maintain cardiovascular health, specifically reducing the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

  1. Boosts Your Immune System

Spending time in nature can be brilliant for boosting both your and your elder relative’s immune system. As we age, our immune systems weaken, so taking measures to strengthen them can mean having an improved chance of your body being able to fight off infections. Being exposed to the sun outdoors means taking in more vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin” – an immunity-boosting essential.

Getting outside doesn’t have to be a chore - you may even find you enjoy spending time in nature more than you anticipated! And, if you’re already onboard with the benefits of nature, why not share the love with the older members of your family and begin to make it a more consistent part of your lifestyle!