This is the conclusion of a review done by Bangor University of recent research into where best to exercise. The study points out that exercising outdoors is better at helping your mind to relax. It helps cut anger, fatigue and sadness. After a walk in the open air, people felt more energetic and found it easier to concentrate.
It would be good to see some research on how frequently older people do go outside after they retire. There are lots of intrepid travelers abroad and closer to home ramblers in the countryside or window shoppers in the town. Nonetheless I would guess that people are less active as they get older. The image of more leisure time is curtailed by limited financial resources and replaced by the easy option of daytime TV. Add to this the limitations of impaired mobility and worries about street crime and gradually we are creating a generation of “her indoors” as Arthur Daley would say.
For the older elderly this is especially true, particularly for those in residential homes who very rarely get outside simply because of the shortage of staff to assist them.
This study reaches a simple conclusion but one with important consequences for how people should be looked after in later life. The opportunity to get out and enjoy some fresh air and gentle exercise should be an essential ingredient of housing and support for the elderly. This relatively inexpensive activity can be the start of a virtuous circle that improves well-being and reduces social isolation. In turn there is ample evidence to suggest that this lifts people out of the downward spiral of loneliness, depression and deteriorating health.
It’s not a cure-all but it is a positive lifestyle change that could be encouraged and supported.
Maybe we should start a “Walk for Life” campaign ?