Enjoy the Great Outdoors—Safely!

Spring has finally come to the Chicago area, and the temperatures are warm enough to spend time outside. Exercising in the fresh air is a great way for seniors to stay fit. Getting out in the sun is great for your mood and your health, especially after this long winter.

Whether you want to enjoy Bridgeway’s beautiful grounds or hit Lake Michigan’s beautiful beaches, remember these safety tips for a healthy and productive spring and summer.

Prevent Falls

Seniors are more prone to falling, whether it’s because of osteoporosis, slower reflexes or reduced muscle mass. Take proper fall precautions during the warmer months, when you’re outdoors more. Make sure your shoes fit well and your shoelaces don’t drape over the sides of your shoes. If you will be exercising, wear comfortable running shoes.

When out in the evening, stick to well-lit, paved paths to avoid tripping hazards. Wet grass can be surprisingly slippery, so resist the temptation to cut across the lawn right after a rain or sprinkling.

Avoid Sun Overexposure

Use sunscreen if you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors. While vitamin D is important, you can get the full amount you need in just a few minutes on a sunny day. If you’ll be outside any longer than that, make sure to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least 30 SPF. You’ll need to reapply it every couple of hours, or sooner if you sweat a lot or go in the water.

Stay in the shade as much as possible, or wear a wide-brimmed hat to bring the shade with you. On especially hot days, wear light colors and fabrics with a loose fit.

Stay hydrated

Drink lots of water and avoid sugary drinks. To add some flavor to your beverages, you can float a few lemon slices in your ice water for a refreshing drink. Keep in mind that seniors are more susceptible to dehydration than they were when they were young. You may not realize when you’re getting dried out, so make a point to drink a full cup of water every half hour that you’re outdoors—even more frequently if you’re exercising.

Recognize the early signs of dehydration:

  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty walking
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Rapid heart rate

If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or your companion, take a drink and move to a cool, indoor place immediately. If symptoms persist, call 911.

Prepare ahead

You never know what will happen when you go on a trip. You may get stuck in traffic on your way back home, or be delayed in some other way. Always bring more water than you think you’ll need, and consider bringing extra snacks as well. If you’re on any medication that needs to be taken at a specific time, you may want to bring one dose with you in case you get back later than planned.

Also bring with you sunscreen for reapplication, bug spray, and a mini first aid kit for minor injuries. Always carry a phone with you so can get help in the case of emergency.

With just a bit of forethought, you can have a fun, enjoyable spring and summer—without the worry.