Immersing Yourself in Nature has Many Health Benefits

April 09, 2021

sam smith web

By Terrie M. Roberts

Spring washes in like the tide, banishing winter’s chill and bathing The Oaks of Louisiana in warmth and breathtaking beauty. The 312-acre campus is lush, trees budding, gardens richly full of vibrant petals and the soft greens of early spring.

Even the spirits of the residents rise as they shed the weight of winter coats and hats, invigorated by the gentle spring sun and nature’s invitation to join her outdoors.

“Senior adults can benefit in many ways from being outdoors,” says Holly Sanders, Spa & Wellness manager and group fitness coordinator for Willis-Knighton Fitness & Wellness Centers. “Spending time outdoors restores the body and soul. Research confirms that being outside not only lifts your spirits and makes you feel happier, it improves your physical and mental well-being.”

Seniors who spend time outdoors experience less depression, stress and anxiety. Vitamin D levels rise, which helps reduce the risk of a number of physical ailments, including pain in muscles and bones, inflammation, osteoporosis, cancer, heart attacks and more. Spending time outdoors also strengthens immune function, increasing white blood cells.

A 2015 study from the University of Minnesota revealed “how a relatively mundane experience, such as hearing the sound of water or a bee buzzing among flowers can have a tremendous impact on overall health” of senior adults.

A 2016 study from Harvard University found that people whose homes are surrounded by vegetation lived 12 percent longer, among other findings.

While simply being outside and enjoying nature is beneficial, The Oaks campus offers myriad opportunities to interact with nature and get exercise at the same time. LifeTrail outdoor fitness stations are positioned throughout campus and provide residents strength and cardio workout opportunities for a full body workout. Walking trails around Lake Eleanor and throughout campus let residents enjoy aerobic exercise while experiencing fresh air, birds chirping, the smell of freshly cut grass. A croquet lawn, chipping green and putting green let residents engage in friendly competition, while Lake Eleanor is the perfect spot to cast a line on a Saturday afternoon.

 “Traditional exercise isn’t the only way to spend more time outside,” Sanders says. “We have gardening opportunities. We’re the perfect venue for birdwatching. We have seating for relaxation and meditation. The Oaks is like a big park with ducks, geese and other wildlife – all which promote positive feelings and better mental health.”

What better time than spring and what better place than The Oaks to enjoy the great outdoors.