Older People and The Outdoor Gym: Will Green Prescribing Offer an Alternative Path?

As a district nurse for over twenty years I have mainly cared for older people in their own homes. The  challenge with an ageing population is supporting older people to self-manage their healthcare and stay well through exercise.

john-and-his-dog-archieThis is my neighbour John and his dog Archie. John is 82 years old, and though he can’t walk the Eildon hills anymore, he still manages to take Archie out for short walks down the street. Archie gives him a reason and motivation to get out and about.

There is an abundance of evidence on the benefits of outdoor activity.

Research at the James Hutton institute identifies multiple, inter-related barriers that reduce the opportunities for older people to participate in outdoor activities: poor health, immobility, limited social relationships and fragility.

The Green Gym

As health professionals how can we engage with patients and their families to make green prescribing, and the use of our great outdoor ‘green gym’, a real choice?

We can’t do anything about our Scottish weather but we can use green prescribing as an additional choice to the traditional hospital based exercise care pathways for falls and post-op rehabilitation.

Interventions need to be offered which suit people’s ability and preferences. They don’t need to be based solely around exercise and can be seen as an option to alleviate social isolation, the profound loneliness many older people feel. Research by geriatrician Dr Carla M. Perissinotto at University of California has linked loneliness to physical illness and early death, a real health challenge for Scotland, with so many elderly people living alone. Continue reading “Older People and The Outdoor Gym: Will Green Prescribing Offer an Alternative Path?”