Springtime is an awakening for nature as the quiet surroundings suddenly come alive with chirping birds and scampering wildlife. Once-barren trees blossom, and life blooms everywhere.
You are a part of nature, too, and may feel reinvigorated as the days get longer and flowers bloom all around. This is especially true for nature lovers, gardeners, and people who struggle with the long dark nights of winter.
Natural light is great for your health. Exposure to the sun can boost the production of serotonin, which can improve mood and focus. Sunlight may even help mitigate depression and improve mental health. The sun is a natural source of vitamin D, which plays a critical role in immunity and overall health. Vitamin D also works with calcium to strengthen bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Let’s dig into some outdoor activities to help you enjoy the spring weather, become more active, connect with friends and family, and maybe cultivate a new hobby or two.
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1. Farmer’s Markets
Food is more than just fuel. It’s a source of pleasure, a way to connect with others, and a hobby. Thinking about where your food comes from can lend a bit of magic to each meal, and it may inspire you to eat a healthier, more varied diet. Diet is also a major predictor of long-term health, so the food you choose is an important ingredient in the recipe for aging gracefully.
Farmer’s markets help you connect with your food’s origin story. Get to know local farmers while enjoying seasonal fare, and you just might find that healthy eating becomes more appealing.
Farmer’s markets are easy, affordable fun, even if you don’t need to do any grocery shopping. Most provide free entry to the shopping area, giving you an opportunity to get moving, meet up with loved ones, and see what local makers and farmers have been up to. Some even offer freshly prepared meals, crafts, natural bath and body products, and plants for your garden.
Gardening gives you the chance to stretch in nature as birds chirp and butterflies flit all around you. It’s hard to imagine a more idyllic way to exercise than this! Growing your own food or flowers offers something to look forward to each day as seeds turn to sprouts, sprouts develop into plants, and plants eventually bear fruit.
Gardening is an intellectual challenge. You’ll need to determine which plants are right for your climate, plan the right location for each garden bed, and manage problems as they arise. This encourages flexible thinking and keeps you intellectually engaged, both of which may improve health and reduce the risk of dementia.
Gardening can be a highly social activity. Nurture friendships with other gardeners in your community at seed and scion exchanges and garden clubs. Gardeners love to share, especially when their gardens get going and they have more fruit, seeds, and sprouts than they know what to do with! Even for shy introverts, connecting over the latest heirloom seeds can be fun.
Want to start your garden? Find local plant swaps. If you’re looking for someone to swap gardening tips with, too, find a garden club.
3. Local Park Exploration
Parks make it easy to soak up some vitamin D, get exercise, and enjoy the natural splendor of a new season. No matter what you’re into or how physically fit you are, there’s a park—and an activity—that will suit your needs and tastes.
Some ideas for spending a day in a local park include:
- Take your dog for a walk and try to meet at least one other dog lover.
- Invite a friend for a dog-friendly hike.
- Pick up the grandkids and go to a playground or plan a water balloon fight.
- Pack some chairs or a blanket, a book, and a delicious meal. Then, enjoy a quiet picnic, a novel, and perhaps a snooze in the afternoon shade.
- Channel your inner kid—playgrounds aren’t just for little ones. Swings and slides can be great fun for adults, too.
- Check the calendar at your local park for upcoming events. You might find everything from craft fairs and farmer’s markets to nighttime performances and live music.
You can often find a park around the corner, whether it’s your church playground or the tiny community garden in your neighborhood. The act of searching for a park can be fun in its own right, and it may encourage you to go for a walk and explore new territory.
4. Nature Walks
It’s amazing what you don’t notice in your own backyard until you look. Odds are good that dozens of bird and animal species make their home there. These creatures are just as interesting as exotic animals you would have to fly across the globe to see—if you’re willing to pay attention.
Get to know the flora and fauna in your own neighborhood with a nature walk. Try making a list of local wildlife you’d like to see or watching a documentary about an animal you never think much about, then observe it in the wild from a newly informed perspective.
Organizations devoted to wildlife can also be a rich source of information and meaningful social connection.
Check out your local Audubon Society to learn more about the birds that make your community their home.
5. Water Exercises
Being in the water is simultaneously relaxing and invigorating.
For fitness novices, water aerobics offer a low-impact choice that can feel less painful and stressful than traditional exercise. Even if you're a fitness buff, though, the water has a lot to offer. Kayaking, canoeing, water aerobics, and more can add adventure to your life while offering the satisfaction of mastering a new skill.
State and local parks often have lakes as well as boats and other equipment you can rent. For thrill-seekers, a local water park is a great place to swim, slide, and splash—especially if you’re bringing grandkids.
Many YMCAs offer pools, water aerobics, and more; find one near you.
Spring into New Opportunities
Spring is a great time to reevaluate what’s working for you and what’s not in your current routine. That includes your living situation.
Almost every activity becomes more fun when you have people to enjoy it with. The right senior living community puts friendship just outside your door, supporting you to nurture new connections and build an enriched, deeply connected life.
This post was originally published in April 2023 and updated in January 2024.