Bears hibernate for nearly half the year. No wonder they’re so hungry and grumpy when they get up. For many seniors, much of the year is spent in their own den, their time spent killing time and pining for the smell of flowers, the warmth of the sun, the great outdoors. In addition to all the trials and tribulations life throws at us, for those living in northern climates, there is the added insult of winter.

The young, mobile, and strong take it as no insult at all. They welcome the snow and cold with scarfs and mitts, sleds and snowshoes, ice fishing gear and snowblowers. They revel in all things winter. Misplaced enthusiasm for sure.

Many seniors hunker down for as many as six months and wait out the foul weather. Bears go this long without drinking, eating, or pooping. Seniors, as a rule, are more regular. The fact remains though that many are house-bound and unable to participate in activities that kept them on the move, gave their lives purpose. Bears also live off a layer of fat.

Enter spring and then summer. They come in right on cue every year. And the entrance is a soft one. Demure. Sort of unannounced. It’s the perfect time to get up out of your chair and get moving. Here are a couple of ideas to help make spring your hint to get outside and moving. Walking is underrated. In the beginning, and I mean the beginning, we clap and cheer as baby’s take their first steps. It’s not long though before walking takes a back seat to just about anything that keeps us from walking. Summer can help to change that. It is a great time to rediscover our youth. Make a point of walking every day. Keep a journal. Log the miles. You may surprise yourself by how far you get says Nicole Blais, Founder of Goshenite Seniors Services INC. Nearly everyone can do it, and there’s the added little bonus of that dose of Vitamin D from the sun that’s been missing since oh, about October.

There are a few things to keep in mind. Get the ‘all clear’ from your health practitioner. Invest in a comfortable pair of walking shoes. And remember, its summer, but you’re no spring chicken. Start slowly. Keep the distance reasonable. Keep an eye out for aches and pains that may be the result of too much too soon. If you can walk with a partner, great. It serves a couple of purposes. For one, it’s a great buddy system. If your partner is a great conversationalist, even better. If you’re able to hold a conversation without feeling winded, you’re on track. If not, ease off the throttle a bit. Some of walking’s benefits are obvious: cardiovascular health improves; healthy weight objectives are achievable; bones, muscles, and joints are strengthened. But there are other advantages that fly under the radar a little but are no less important. Studies have shown that walking regularly aids in getting a good night’s sleep. And perhaps most importantly, moderate exercise such as walking helps to slow cognitive decline.

Gardening, unless you’re one of those people who grows herbs on the windowsill, is really an outdoor summer affair. So, if you’ve got a green thumb, spring is your green light to get outdoors and start putting down roots. For the senior planter, there are all kinds of ideas to make gardening easier on more ‘seasoned’ bones. It may be the case that traditional gardening, i.e. the down to earth on your hands and knees type is simply out of the question. Older back and hips and knees tend to object to all the bending and stooping. Here are two alternatives to the tried and true ‘horizontal’ style of gardening, the one where you look down at a rectangle of soil and wish it weren’t so far away. First is the raised bed. It’s a gardening method that’s older than dirt. That doesn’t make sense, I know. After the initial investment in some lumber and the labour (that’s what children are for), you have a garden that is literally at your fingertips. Depending on space and budget, you can make it as big as you wish. Second is vertical gardening. Your crops don’t go north, south, east, and west. They go up! Create a trellis and stand back. I have it on good authority that a bean stalk will go on forever. Cucumbers, squash, melons, and other vegetables also do well with this method. Potatoes not so much. If you like a glass of wine, consider growing grapes in this manner.

If growing your own food or drink isn’t your thing, many flowers take to these techniques wonderfully too. Regardless of which approach you may choose to employ; a pair of good hand pruners are indispensable. They’ll save your hands and keep you from a great deal of frustration. A pair of gardening gloves and a sunhat complete the ensemble. The rest is optional! So, it’s settled then. This year you’ll make like a bear; wake up, shake off the winter dust, do your business. Winter can make leaving the den and being active very difficult.

Mother Nature has a remedy, spring, and summer. Get your recommended daily dose.