It's a commonly accepted fact that spending time in nature reduces stress, and many popular outdoor activities also provide wonderful social opportunities. We are blessed at Collinwood to have ten acres of woods, walking trails and mountain views right outside our door. We often encourage our residents to take advantage of these amenities, but for those who are new to our community or are hesitant to stray far from their apartment, we've created this list of three benefits of reconnecting with nature they can experience by heading outside today.
The people of Japan have practiced shinrin-yuku or forest bathing since the 1980s. This nature-based therapy focuses on simply surrounding yourself with a green space, and it's highly accessible since it doesn't require long walks or hikes through potentially rough terrain.
Instead, forest bathing sees people leaving behind their phone so that they can take a leisurely, uninterrupted stroll in which they can experience nature through their five senses including smelling flowers and fresh air, watching leaves flutter in the breeze and listening to bird songs, the wind or flowing water.
Research has proven that even those without access to a forested area can visit public parks and backyard gardens to reap health benefits that include lowered risks of developing cardiovascular disease, improved sleep cycles and stronger immune systems.
Studies conducted by psychologists and educational professors have confirmed that walking boosts creative thinking. While even walking on a treadmill indoors can provide this benefit, taking a nature walk delivers the added bonus of providing potential sources of inspiration such as flowers, tree silhouettes and sunsets for artists to paint or photograph. By finding new models and scenes for their art, seniors can continue to hone their skills in their favorite craft.
Gardening has been a beloved pastime for generations because it lets people nurture plants and watch their efforts literally grow and blossom before their eyes. As we enter the fall season, seniors may wish to look into joining one of the many community gardens around Fort Collins so that they can start planning their gardens for next summer or researching bulbs that need to be planted now in order to bloom next spring.
Older adults can sometimes struggle to find purpose in their daily lives, but many nature-based activities provide meaningful ways that individuals can contribute to their community and organizations close to their heart.
The monarch butterfly is the most recognizable species of butterfly in the United States. However, due to loss of habitat and other influences, the colorful insect is in danger of going extinct. Groups such as Monarch Watch and The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are teaming up with citizens around the country to save monarchs through butterfly gardens and tagging programs.
Bird-watching is rapidly gaining in popularity as a hobby, and many participants keep a life list that details the various bird species they've witnessed firsthand. Here in Fort Collins, we are blessed to have an extensive variety of birds, and the local Audubon Society and bird-watching clubs benefit greatly from residents who share sightings of rare and unusual birds in our area. Maps and species checklists are available on the society's website as well as information about field trips and events.