According to Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, “People with a greater sense of vitality don’t just have more energy for the things they want to do, they are also more resilient to physical illness. One of the pathways to health may be to spend more time in natural settings.”
Residents of Windsor Run, an Erickson Senior Living-managed community in Matthews, N.C., reap the many social and health benefits, thanks to convenient access to beautiful and well-maintained outdoor amenities. Popular activities include gardening and walking.
“Windsor Run community members lead almost 100 clubs and activities, representing a wide variety of interests,” says resident life manager Maria Reyes. “A growing number of these activities include time outdoors.”
Communing with nature
While having fun is the key objective, the added health benefits of time outdoors is icing on the cake for Windsor Run community members. According to a research study at the University of Minnesota, “Seniors who spend ample time in blue and green outdoor areas, such as grassy parks or on the edge of koi ponds, enjoy increased feelings of connectedness and renewal.”
One of the most popular outdoor clubs on campus, the Windsor Run Gardeners, provides a “green” outlet for fresh air and socialization on the beautiful campus. As Windsor Run grows, so does the number of community members interested in maintaining a personal garden.
“I decided to have a garden because I missed homegrown tomatoes,” says community member Nancy Casey, who serves as the group’s president. “I also decided to add a zucchini plant in order to bake zucchini bread and enjoy a yummy chocolate zucchini cake. The garden yielded loads of each last summer.”
Community member Anne Taber also maintains a garden, a tradition she’s enjoyed for most of her life. “I have been a gardener for 60 years,” she says. “My husband’s family were pioneers in the horticulture industry in Florida since 1883. My children grew up in a wholesale nursery and my husband landscaped. I enjoyed adding flowers and roses. Each summer, our extended family got together to can and freeze vegetables. I like gardening because it is an excuse to be outdoors and enjoy nature."
She adds, "Growing and harvesting vegetables from our container gardens continues to be a great pleasure to me. Gardening provides exercise, promotes healthy eating, and encourages composting among peers at Windsor Run.”
For both women, the opportunity to spend time outdoors with fellow residents is the biggest benefit of the Windsor Run Gardeners. “Sharing time with neighbors who enjoy gardening is a definite benefit,” says Nancy. “As a group, we also sponsor programs to visit local gardens.”
Anne agrees. “Gardeners share ideas, cuttings, watering duties, field trips, camaraderie, fellowship, mutual interests and other shared responsibilities,” she says.
Another popular outdoor activity for Windsor Run residents is the walking club, led by Wellness Coordinator Timothy Dean.
“The Windsor Run campus is beautiful, providing the perfect backdrop for daily walks by community members,” he says.
“The importance of exercising is critical,” says community member Janet Yaroma. “I really appreciate walking around our campus, and I’m very impressed with the number of fellow residents who walk daily.”
Because the number of Windsor Run community members looking for new walking opportunities continues to grow, Timothy organizes a variety of organized walks within the local Matthews community.
Going on longer walks
“In 2018, we began hosting a weekly off-campus walk to a variety of locations in Matthews, including neighborhoods and parks,” he says. “Our transportation department is instrumental in taking us safely to our walking destinations. We have more than 30 active walkers who enjoy walks of distances between 0.5 and 4+ miles.”
Two of the group’s most popular walks include trails at Francis Beatty Park and Squirrel Lake Park.
“Without a doubt, socialization is what residents find most enjoyable about the walking groups,” says Dean. “The social interaction—laughing, talking, meeting others—is at the forefront of these walks. Not only do the walks provide opportunities for residents to meet each other, but they also provide an outlet to share common interests with likeminded people.”
With the summer breezes giving way to cooler fall days, Windsor Run community members look forward to other seasonal outdoor recreational opportunities, including the harvesting of the gardens. “There are so many activities available for residents to enjoy,” says Reyes. “The only problem is choosing what to do first.”
See the beautiful Windsor Run campus for yourself! Click to schedule a visit or request a free brochure.