Let us get this to you straight – older adults and seniors can still play and enjoy sports. If you think stretching your body a little bit, grabbing a racquet, or joining a team is no longer a senior thing, read on to see how these activities can level up your daily lifestyle.
Playing Sports: Can Seniors Still Do It?
As long as you can move your arms, legs, and body, you have what it takes to be a champion regardless of your age. Playing sports can be an incredibly beneficial activity for seniors. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that senior citizens must participate in sports and have at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week to reduce their risk of chronic diseases.
But not only can sports help improve physical health – it can also have a positive impact on your mental and emotional wellbeing. Feeling down or alone? There are many sports you can play to the rescue, and these can provide a great way to socialize, stay fit, while also having fun.
Benefits of Playing Sports for Seniors
Physical Benefits of Sports
First, let’s discuss how fantastic sports can be for your body.
The physical health benefits of playing sports for seniors, or for any age, include improved cardiovascular health, increased muscle strength, improved balance and coordination, and increased flexibility. It also reduces the risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and osteoporosis – which are very common in older adults.
Moreover, playing your favorite sport also boosts overall immune function, which is especially important for seniors whose immune systems are frequently compromised. Even light exercise, such as walking, can be an effective step in the management of preventable diseases – take that step literally.
Mental Benefits of Sports
Body? Check. Mind? Check!
Did you know that endorphins or the “feel good” hormone are rapidly released when playing sports? These hormones act as a stress reliever, so after every game, it leaves you feeling happy and satisfied!
Social Benefits of Sports
Staying up late or can’t control your body clock? Sports is a great way to solve this too. After a day of playing, you’re likely to have a good night’s sleep, which is especially important for older adults who frequently suffer from insomnia and disrupted sleep patterns.
You don’t just gain a healthy body and peaceful mind, you also gain friends! Aside from the physical and mental advantages of sports, playing can also be made into a fun social event. For example, you can join a walking group, attend fitness classes, or walk on a golf club with friends! Just make sure you have sunscreen and skin protection!
What are the Best Sports for Seniors?
Even if you have arthritis, osteoporosis, or heart disease, there are still plenty of sports that you can enjoy regardless of your age. The key here is to find activities that are low impact and do not put too much strain on your joints.
Here are the top choices we recommend that can help you sweat while also keeping your social battery charged, and your mind fully relaxed:
Can you imagine getting a total-body exercise from a single, equipmentless sport? That is what swimming has in store for you! Swimming is one of the best sports for the elderly because it is a low-impact activity that strengthens muscles and gets your full body moving.
If you have mobility issues due to conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis, you will be surprised to learn that you can still swim with ease!
Swimming’s buoyancy effect can also be detrimental to some people by lowering the stress required to load the musculoskeletal system sufficiently to maintain and increase bone strength.
If you live in an estate with a golf course nearby, don’t pass up the opportunity to take advantage of it. Go for the gold, and go play golf!
Followed by swimming, Golf is the second most popular sport among seniors, with over 30% of seniors participating in it, per National Senior Games Association. Golf is a great sport for seniors as it is low-impact and can be played at a leisurely pace.
As you know, this one is played on a large course, so you will be doing a lot of walking on your way to the club. Most courses are not flat either, so you will be doing uphill walks from one hole to the next.
Furthermore, golf requires walking and is an excellent upper-body exercise due to the movement of your arms, shoulders, and chest. You can also make the challenge more difficult by carrying the bag or pulling the trolley! Before hitting the ball, you will consider angles, slopes, wind direction, and speed as part of your mental workout.
Cycling is another low-impact sport that is great for seniors, as it can be done indoors or outdoors. Since it only requires pedaling, it is gentler on your joints while still providing a good workout! Hooray for leg day!
And hooray for more savings! Why? Cycling can also help you save money in addition to providing health benefits. You can use your bike as a mode of transportation instead of driving your car or paying for a bus or taxi. Furthermore, having fewer cars on the road benefits the environment by lowering harmful emissions. It’s a win-win-win situation!
Now, time for the most relaxing and soothing entry here – Yoga. Admit it, just hearing the word Yoga is enough to relax your mind and think of light and positive thoughts.
Yoga is a great sport for seniors as it helps to improve flexibility and balance. Because it is slow and gentle on the body, yoga is one of the best and possibly one of the lowest-impact sports for older adults.
This activity has numerous advantages, including increased flexibility, joint strength, and stress and anxiety relief. What’s even better is it does not require equipment and a wide space – it can be done on the floor, while standing, or while sitting in a chair. Its deep breathing also stimulates blood flow and warm muscles, making it easier for you to focus, concentrate and relax your full body!
Rock your racquets, because Tennis is another sport we highly recommend for you. It incorporates arm, leg, and body exercises, as well as numerous opportunities for social interaction!
If you’re wondering how beneficial this can be for your body, an hour of singles tennis can burn approximately 600 calories for the average man and 420 calories for the average woman. Surprisingly, even doubles can burn up to 425 calories per hour for a man and 330 calories per hour for a woman.
This level of activity may have additional health benefits, such as stress relief, cholesterol reduction, and a lower risk of heart disease. You can compete at any level you want, whether you want to be Rafael Nadal, or just the early learner among your friends! You choose!
Walking has so many health benefits that it would be foolish not to incorporate it into your daily routine. For starters, walking gets your blood pumping without putting too much strain on your cardiovascular system, which means it can lower your risk of heart disease or stroke.
Moreover, walking is a form of exercise that will help you lose weight. Obesity is a worldwide problem, and while it may not appear so, walking can help you burn calories and maintain your weight.
Aim for 30 minutes a day at least four times per week. If you’re worried about injuring yourself on uneven or cracked walking pathways, a treadmill is a great alternative.
What should seniors keep in mind when playing sports?
While these sound exciting and fun, sports can cause injuries at any age, but are especially serious in the elderly. As a result, before beginning any type of physical activity, make sure to have a warm up first.
Of course, the worst thing we can do to harm our health is to begin exercising without first warming up and stretching the body. The warm-up should last 5 to 7 minutes and include exercises for the major muscle groups as well as breathing exercises.
Rotate your legs, arms, and hips, as well as twist and bend. Make sure to stretch your body properly at the end of the exercises. Cool down.
Play Sports, Make Friends, and Have a Brightlife!
Physical activities, such as sports, are essential for aging adults. Aside from keeping the body healthy and avoiding chronic diseases, the best sports we recommend also foster stronger social ties, which is beneficial to both social and mental health.
Some may believe that participating in sports will require more effort in terms of time, schedule, and physical demands. Partly, it does, but it’s for the betterment of your health and mind in the long run.
You just have to find the right sports that will work for you, and once you’ve found it, it will never feel like a chore anymore. That’s for sure!