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Outdoor Activities for Limited Mobility: 6 Ideas For Seniors

Written by 
Molly Burford
Reviewed by 
Marjorie Remy, NP

Article at a glance

  • Many seniors will experience limitations in mobility as they age. That said, engaging in physical activities is still important despite limited mobility.
  • There are many outdoor activities that people with limited mobility can participate in and enjoy.
  • Time outdoors is associated with a number of mental health and physical health benefits.

Growing older may be accompanied by a decrease in mobility, including issues with walking, standing, etc. While this can be frustrating for seniors to experience, limited mobility doesn’t have to hold older adults back from living and enjoying their lives to the fullest. Not to mention, physical activity is important for everyone, no matter your capabilities. 

This article will discuss six outdoor activities for seniors with limited mobility as well as how to spend time outdoors in a safe way.

Health Benefits Of Spending Time Outside

Staying inside for long periods of time can be harmful to one’s overall health and wellness. In fact, spending too much time cooped up indoors can lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, increased feelings of loneliness and isolation, weight gain, decreased vitamin D levels, poor sleep, and more.

On the other hand, spending time outside has a number of benefits related to mental and physical wellness including: 

  • Lower stress and anxiety
  • Better sleep
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Improved focus
  • Better heart health
  • High Vitamin D levels
  • Enhanced immune system function

Note: Learn more about the benefits of spending time outside at this resource.

6 Fun Outdoor Activities For Limited Mobility

There are various outdoor activities for seniors with limited mobility including nature walks, birdwatching, and more. Learn more below.

1. Nature walks

Nature walks are a fun way to stay physically active, even for those who use mobility aids such as a wheelchair. Just be sure to walk along paved paths to lower the risk of falls

2. Bird watching

Bird watching is an engaging activity that helps you connect with nature. You can visit parks or forests known for particular types of birds. You can even place a bird feeder or bird bath in your own backyard which gives you an accessible and easy way to bird watch.

3. Gardening

Gardening is a wonderful way to be active and connect with the natural world. Not only does gardening reduce stress but it also is a great way to stay active and get fresh air.

4. Visiting local parks

Taking a visit to a local park is an excellent way to get some fresh air. Local parks offer ample opportunities for staying active, spending time with friends and family, feeling part of your community, and more. 

Some other ideas for ways to spend time at the park include: 

  • Board games and card games: Many games are easy to transport to the park and play at the picnic tables. This is a fun family activity or a way to connect with other seniors. 
  • Picnics: Packing a delicious spread of food to enjoy with friends and family is a wonderful way to spend time at the park. 
  • Reading: Bring a good book to enjoy. Consider starting a book club for even more opportunities to socialize.
  • Community events and activities: Many parks also offer community activities and events including outdoor concerts, outdoor yoga, and more. Check your local municipality website to stay up to date on events.
  • Fishing: Some parks may have the opportunity to fish. Sitting by the water with a beautiful view is never a bad idea.

Note: If using a wheelchair, check ahead of time to make sure that the park is wheelchair-accessible, including restroom accommodations. This information should be available online or you can call your local municipality office. 

5. Outdoor low-impact exercise

Choosing to practice low-impact exercises outdoors is a great way to sneak in extra fresh air. Some options for low-impact exercises that can be done outside are: 

  • Yoga
  • Walking
  • Bike riding 

6. Outdoor pools

Swimming is a fantastic form of exercise, especially for those with limited mobility. In addition to swimming, water aerobics is another way to exercise in the pool.

How To Spend Time Outside Safely

Safety is important to keep in mind when spending time outdoors. Some safety tips for the great outdoors include: 

  • Wear SPF: Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before sun exposure, and remember to reapply every two hours after your initial application, too. Use an SPF of 15 or higher.
  • Keep up to date with air quality reports: This will mitigate the risk of being impacted by air pollution. You can check your area’s air quality at this resource.
  • Hydrate: Especially when spending time in the hot sun, it’s incredibly important to stay hydrated. Be sure to bring a water bottle and some snacks if planning to be outdoors for a while to avoid heat exhaustion and dehydration.

FAQ

Where can I find outdoor activities for those with limited abilities?

There are a variety of ways to find activities for those with limited mobility. For example, you can turn to religious organizations, local organizations, community centers, senior homes, local charities, etc.

How can you exercise without walking?

There are plenty of ways to exercise, even if you can’t walk. For example, you can swim, ride stationary bikes, canoe, and more.

What are three problems associated with immobility?

Three problems associated with immobility include isolation, less muscle strength, and a loss of a range of motion. This is why staying active and continuing to socialize despite limitations is so important.

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