Embracing nature, parks and outdoor spaces to age well: COVID-19 and beyond by Pazit Levinger, PhD, and Keith Hill, PhD
As the United Nation's Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021–2030) commences, active-aging advocates may look back on 2020 as a year that illuminated the real-world importance of healthy aging. Older people have been adversely impacted by the current coronavirus pandemic, with a high proportion of deaths reported in those ages 65 and over. A new study from Kaiser Permanente, a California-based integrated healthcare system, suggests that physical activity levels are a significant factor in COVID-19 outcomes. Physical activity is a key lifestyle factor that positively impacts health and well-being across the life span, including in older age. Further, being physically active in the outdoors offers mental, physical and social health benefits for all age groups. In light of the pandemic, being outdoors also offers a safer option to engage in physical activity due to the lower transmission risk for the virus. Parks and outdoor leisure spaces are often designed...with little focus on the older demographic. It is timely to make sure the needs of older people are catered for in any future park refurbishments or new outdoor design. Seniors centers, retirement communities and other organizations that serve this population may also increase use of their outdoor spaces for activity through improvements.