The gradual easing of lockdown now means that we all get to spend more than just one hour out of the house and it doesn’t even have to be spent exercising! This opens up the possibility of trips out, picnics and taking time to enjoy the great outdoors, if you feel comfortable leaving the house. If you do, the health benefits of getting outside and enjoying a breath of fresh air can sometimes do more than just help you breathe better and this is particularly prevalent for those with Dementia.
Research has shown that the health of people with dementia who spend as little as 10 to 15 minutes of activity a day outside made significant improvement, and studies published in the Journal of Ageing and Health showed that spending time outdoors every day can help all older people function better in their lives. After months spent in isolation, now may be the perfect time to venture outside and find a welcome change of scene, even if it’s just a short walk down the road. People are still advised to keep a 2 metre distance from others for the foreseeable future, and being outside is deemed very low risk, so getting out and about should still mean you are isolated enough to stay safe whilst blowing away the cobwebs and taking in the summer scenery.
Being outside has the added benefit of upping your Vitamin D intake which is particularly important at the moment as it helps maintain a healthy immune system. Deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection so it is vital that levels are kept topped up during this worrying time. As well as physical health, the act of going outside can instantly reduce stress levels and help regulate sleep patterns – something lots of people have been suffering with since the pandemic started.
If wearing a mask or keeping a safe distance from others is not a possibility and you don’t feel comfortable leaving the home, then taking a ‘walk’ in your garden is still beneficial. Take your lead from the inimitable Captain Tom Moore and set yourself a challenge to do laps of any outside space you have – it could even involve challenging other family members to make it fun. People have been making the most of even the tiniest spaces during the lockdown – there are even those who have run a marathon on their balcony!
However you manage to enjoy the outside, we at the Dementia Network hope that you are able to keep safe, and make the most of the great British Summer and any rain showers that might come with it!