Written by: Beth Kuberka
When it comes time to decide where to live out your golden years, consider the scenery. More than 30 million Baby Boomers are retired. The growing number of retirees is putting into focus the choices and challenges when it comes to choosing where to retire. Seniors today are prioritizing finding somewhere that will be fulfilling physically, socially and emotionally.
But retirement doesn’t look like it used to. It’s now a time of life when Americans report having the greatest amount of fun. According to a study by Age Wave, 88% of people no longer see retirement as the end, and rather a new beginning. It’s one reason for the growing trend of retirement communities with an outdoorsy twist. It’s a trend that will not only make your latter years more fun, but also healthier for your body and your mind.
Tellico Village, an active adult living community right outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, recently surveyed more than 2,300 residents about what they value most. Topping the list is the scenery. Respondents overwhelmingly feel that natural beauty enhances their property values and would support more walking/hiking trails and park space.
Fighting the Blues
It’s well-documented the COVID pandemic caused more anxiety, depression and isolation than ever before. A 2020 study by the AARP Foundation found two-thirds of adults say they are experiencing social isolation and say their anxiety levels have increased during the pandemic.
Feeling sad and lonely can have a big impact on your overall well-being. According to the Centers for Disease Control “Social isolation significantly increased a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.”
Chronic stress will also take a toll on the body. Stress hormones are believed to boost inflammation in the body and can contribute to brain shrinkage, so finding a place where you can relax and unwind is key to living a longer, happier life.
One of the best ways to relieve stress, and be healthier all-around, is exercise. Walking just 30 minutes a day helps your brain and your body. According to health.gov, physical activity can reduce depression and anxiety, lower blood pressure and help with sleep. It can also help to prevent eight types of cancer, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as heart disease and stroke. For older adults, physical activity can also help reduce osteoarthritis pain and prevent injuries from falling.
More retiring Americans are looking for a place that helps them relax mentally, and get moving physically, which is why millions of retiring Americans are seeking out more serene surroundings. A recent Gallup poll shows, close to half of Americans would rather live in a town or rural area rather than a city or suburb.
4 Reasons to prioritize nature
The National Park Service lists reasons why being out in nature is good for you:
NPS says just 20 minutes in nature improves concentration, cognitive function and memory.
The park service boasts that exercising in nature is better for you than exercising indoors.
A walk in nature can improve heart health, circulation and lower cholesterol, blood glucose, blood pressure and inflammation. Multiple studies show interacting with nature can prevent diseases like dementia.
Experts also say nature improves mood, self-esteem and relaxation; and reduces anxiety, depression and stress.
A recent study shows that living in or near green spaces increased the lifespan of women, and seeing more greenery may also boost mental health.
For more evidence on how good views are good for your health, visit the NPS Healthy Parks Healthy People Resources.
Retirement with a view
It’s no surprise Baby Boomers are choosing outdoor-centric communities for retirement. According to a recent Pardee Homes study, trails for walking and biking are on the “must-have” amenities for 55-years-old and up buyers, which is also reflected in the Tellico Village survey. More retirees are flocking to places like The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia, western mountain ranges of Colorado and Arizona, and The Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee.
In fact, Tennessee is consistently ranked among top retirement states in a Bankrate.com study, for its climate and economic advantages. Tennessee is also touted for its scenery—with mountains, rolling hills and lakes.
Mountain communities across the country are meeting the need to pair convenience with tranquility and tap into the natural beauty. These communities are providing a retirement experience that encourages mental relaxation, with an active lifestyle. These types of communities offer more than just a house. They offer a gateway to the outdoors; a view paired with dozens of miles of walking trails to keep you active. This type of nature-inclusive living could increase your happiness, and your life.
About the author:
Beth Kuberka is the marketing director of Tellico Village, a planned active adult community in Tennessee. She oversees all communications, marketing, sales and first impression initiatives for the village. She has nearly 20 years of experience in planned senior community marketing. She spent 8 years at Rarity Bay, working her way up to marketing director before joining Tellico Village in 2012. Kuberka has extensive knowledge of the workings of senior living communities. She has developed several programs, and currently manages an alliance of 88 village-based businesses. She earned a Bachelor in Informational Science from the University of Tennessee in 2004 with a focus on advertising and business marketing.