The Importance of Being Outside

Every morning, the first thing I do is pour myself a big mug of coffee.  The second thing I do is take my standard poodle,  Lucy for a walk.  Today, as I watched the sun rise over the maple trees I was in awe of the shades of red, orange and yellow I observed-the leaves seemed to be glowing as the sun began to shine on them.  I often feel very grateful that I live in the country and can walk in my woods each morning, but today I felt especially so.  Its a quiet and peaceful moment before the hectic day begins.  I decided to cut some smaller branches and bring them inside so I could enjoy their beauty throughout the day.

Pruning shears in hand, I began to think about all of the elders living in the long term care communities I visit on a regular basis.  Would they enjoy the colors and wonders of nature this fall?  Was anyone taking them outside or bringing the outside in for those who may be bed bound?  It made me sad to think about the reality-many of of our elders in long term care communities have very little access to the outdoors.  Being outside feeds our body and soul.  Research studies have shown that time spent outside can help us sleep better by maintaining or resetting our circadian rhythms, makes us feel more creative, reduces our pain, relaxes, provides a dose of vitamin D, and can make it easier to concentrate.

So take a moment from your busy day, walk outside with an elder, sit on a bench, admire the colors, collect leaves, cut branches, inhale deeply and appreciate what is all around us.

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