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The Benefits of Nature for Older Adults: A Pathway to Mental Health and Well-Being

Our physical and mental well-being is essential for healthy aging. This is where nature comes into play. Research has shown that exposure to green spaces and nature has numerous benefits for older adults and all ages, especially regarding mental health, cognitive function, and mood.

From reducing stress levels to improving cognitive health, nature offers a variety of positive outcomes that can enhance the quality of life for older adults and carers!

"I sit out there and there is an olive tree in the garden and I prefer to sit outside, it’s not so lonely being outside in the open. You can hear the birds, not so lonely as always being by yourself inside” - woman, age 93

*** Quote from a qualitative study examining how adults (age 60+) describe their experience of the natural world

Studies have revealed that walking through an urban green space or engaging in a calming activity such as bird-watching can have a restorative effect on mental health.

Enjoying moments engaging with nature in a green area can significantly increase this restorative effect, especially for those who enter with a high-stress level.

Physical Activity Outdoors

Studies have shown that green exercise, exercise in nature, positively impacts mood, decreases the likelihood of depression, lowers stress levels, and improves cognitive function throughout life. Moreover, viewing images of nature or being in various green spaces has contributed to stress recovery and cognitive health.

Stress Relief

Chronic stress and stressful events can take a toll on an older adult's health, but visiting parks has been found to be a positive way to cope with life stressors. In a study of 600 people, including 20% aged 55 or older, those who relocated to greener areas reported better mental health for three years after their move.


The connection between nearby nature and social interaction is also well-established. Studies have shown that decreased loneliness correlates with lower mortality rates, depression, and cognitive impairment. Natural elements encourage people to spend more time outdoors, fostering social ties and friendships with neighbors through spontaneous face-to-face encounters. Green spaces and outdoor gathering spaces provide a pathway to enhanced social connections and a stronger sense of community for older adults who may be less mobile.

Let's Bring Care Outdoors!

Nature offers a multitude of benefits for older adults, and all ages, from reducing stress levels and improving cognitive health to fostering social connections and enhancing well-being. Whether it's a walk in a green area, gardening, or just enjoying the beauty of nature, exposure to the natural world can be a powerful tool in promoting healthy aging.

Curious to learn more?


Beyer, K. M., Kaltenbach, A., Szabo, A., Bogar, S., Nieto, F. J., & Malecki, K. M. (2014). Exposure to neighborhood green space and mental health: evidence from the survey of the health of Wisconsin. International journal of environmental research and public health, 11(3), 3453-3472.

Jonveaux, T. R., Batt, M., Fescharek, R., Benetos, A., Trognon, A., Bah Chuzeville, S., ... & Bouvel, B. (2013). Healing gardens and cognitive behavioral units in the management of Alzheimer's disease patients: the Nancy experience. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 34(1), 325-338.

Ottosson, J., & Grahn, P. (2006). Measures of restoration in geriatric care residences: the influence of nature on elderly people's power of concentration, blood pressure and pulse rate. Journal of Housing for the Elderly, 19(3-4), 227-256.

Matsunaga, K., Park, B. J., Kobayashi, H., & Miyazaki, Y. (2011). Physiologically relaxing effect of a hospital rooftop forest on older women requiring care. Journal of the American geriatrics society, 59(11), 2162-2163.

Rappe, E., Kivelä, S. L., & Rita, H. (2006). Visiting outdoor green environments positively impacts self-rated health among older people in long-term care. HortTechnology, 16(1), 55-59.

Raske, M. (2010). Nursing home quality of life: Study of an enabling garden. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 53(4), 336-351.

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