Many of us have a deep connection to nature. Our national parks are more popular than ever, and environmental issues are in the news daily.

For most people, being outdoors improves our mood and reduces stress. Being cooped up in an office or other workplace where we don’t feel the breeze on our face and the sun on our skin—or hear the rustling of leaves and chirping of birds—can be detrimental. Imagine how much someone in a care community might miss that if they rarely leave the indoors.

If it’s possible physically, getting out into nature can be a great benefit, even for an hour a day. Taking a gentle walk helps strength and mobility in addition to enhancing mood, and group strolls increase social time. Moreover, seeing and experiencing nature can help a person relive fond memories of hiking excursions, picnics in the park, and more.

An article on the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation states, “Numerous studies show that getting outdoors improves not only your body but also your mind and spirit. Connecting with nature can help you see things in a new light.” Of course, we must be cautious and attentive when taking people with cognitive impairment outside, but if possible, research suggests that it provides benefits to mood and brain health.

That article quotes Frances E. Kuo, Ph.D., a faculty member at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who researches the effects of nature on human functioning, saying, “We think that spending time in nature helps rest a part of the brain that’s involved in mental effort, giving it a chance to recuperate and be ready to tackle effortful tasks afterward.”

The book “Design for Nature in Dementia Care” notes that if a person can’t go outside, we can bring nature-based activities indoors to them. Live houseplants, fresh flowers, and pets all are ways to brighten a person’s day if they can’t safely spend time in the great outdoors. Involving those who are able in watering and caring for plants indoors also is enriching.

EngAGE EnCOURAGE™ has a host of class offerings to help trigger memories of nature that will bring joy and foster a culture of sharing stories about past vacations and adventures. Our new monthly membership plan offers two classes each month for $49.99 on a similar theme, such as America’s National Parks A-Z and America’s Lighthouses. These topics are sure to help people connect with the natural world and each other.

Because we know that physical activity, whether indoors or out, also contributes to our overall health, our fitness subscription offers unlimited access to our Fitness & Wellness classes. EngAGE EnCOURAGE™ addresses intellectual stimulation, body fitness, and spiritual well-being.

EngAGE EnCOURAGE™ provides quality curriculum for use in programming at assisted living communities, adult day clubs, and for memory care providers. Our turnkey classes include narrated videos, discussion topics, and all materials for class facilitators. Reach us via email or toll free by phone at (800) 990-9806.