Caregiver Advice: GO OUTSIDE!

Today is Sunday and it’s a beautiful day. Don’t hate me if I’m inspired to preach. My sermon will be short: GO OUTSIDE! While you think of all the obstacles that could keep you from doing that, here are some good reasons why you must.

Between the Pond and the Woods

Butterfly garden at Nescopeck State Park

A nice stroll and the smell of grass will go a long way to helping you feel good if you don’t have time to do more. This can be accomplished even if you need to cajole someone else to go with you — or push a loved one’s wheelchair. The Alzheimer’s site recommends the following joint outdoor activities to promote caregiver health:

  • Take a walk together outside to enjoy the fresh air
  • Go to the mall and stroll there
  • Garden or do other routine activities that you both enjoy

Do you need more reasons to go out and move around?

  • Research like the Evercare study shows that caregivers’ health suffers due to their lack of time and energy to prepare proper meals or to exercise. In this national survey, 60% of caregivers said that their eating (63%) and exercise  (58%) habits were worse than before.
  • A study by Haley, et al, showed that caregivers are at risk for increased mortality, coronary heart disease and stroke, particularly under conditions of high strain.

I’m ending the list here since almost everyone knows the bad news already. Instead, let’s consider the good news. The Mayo Clinic says that just a regular brisk walk can help you:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Prevent/manage heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes
  • Strengthen your bones
  • Lift your mood
  • Improve your balance and coordination

If that isn’t enough to get you off the couch, consider these sage words from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“In the woods, a man casts off his years…I feel that nothing can befall me in life — no disgrace, no calamity, which nature cannot repair. In the woods we return to reason and faith.” [from his essay on Nature]

I may be old fashioned, but I love reading Emerson’s tributes to nature and its power to transform the way we feel. Since I am a bit modern, too, I can also condense the forty pages of Emerson’s essay to one excellent idea: GO OUTSIDE!

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