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Seniors can boost mood by heading outside

July 30, 2012

Whether it's concerns about retirement savings or family worries, sometimes stress can creep up on seniors. However, experts say relieving some of that anxiety may be as simple as spending some time outside. According to AARP, heading outdoors, regardless of if it's for a hike or just a stroll around the park, has proven to be a serious stress reliever.

Among those who have reaped the benefits of time spent outdoors is Marti Erickson. Whenever she feels overwhelmed or stressed out, she heads outside to a grassy area and does nothing more than enjoy being in nature. Aside from giving her a chance to lower stress levels, it also gives her an opportunity to spend time with her family.

"The reason I have a couple of those chairs is that my oldest grandchild likes nature breaks, too, and joins me when we're out together," she told AARP.

Aside from helping relieve stress, there are a number of other health benefits associated with going outside, many of which are tied to increased exposure to sunlight. According to U.S. News and World Report, as little as 15 minutes outside at the same time each day can help seniors sleep better.

Furthermore, exposure to sunlight is often cited as a good source of vitamin D, which offers a number of benefits on its own. Most recently, a study out of Oregon State University found that frail older adults who have low levels of vitamin D have about a 30 percent greater mortality risk than older adults with higher levels of the nutrient.

Luckily, there are many options available for senior citizens looking to get outside, from joining a walking club or gardening to golfing.