We all know how important it is to get enough exercise and keep moving, especially as we grow older, staying active helps with maintaining a healthy weight, keeping mobile and strong, and providing positive hormones which are great for mental wellbeing and brain health.
Regular exercise also reduces the risk of serious illnesses such as heart disease and cancer, can help with brain function and enable people to stay independent into older age.
There are plenty of ways to get active, however, arguably, none are better than getting involved in a sport you love which can provide the benefits of being competitive and striving to improve, and often runs on a weekly schedule ensuring you get regular exercise. Team sports can bring other benefits too, such as being part of a social group and the mutual support and encouragement from the other players to add to the feel-good factor.
Many older people are put off starting a new sport or even picking up an old one, worrying that they would not be able to learn quickly, or that they are not as fit as they used to be so wouldn’t be good enough to take part. But once you take the plunge and start seeking out a sport or team, many say that it has an incredibly positive impact on their life.
There is a sport for everyone, whatever your fitness level, interests and abilities, and we have got a selection of the most popular sports for older people as a starting point to consider:
1. In the Swim
Swimming is fantastic for older people as it exercises the whole body, giving both a muscular and cardiovascular workout, whilst being fun and often therapeutic.
Swimming is a great activity for people suffering from joint and mobility issues as the water can support the body’s movements and take 90 per cent of the body’s weight. This makes the movements less painful as well as the resistance of the water helping to build the supporting muscles.
If you enjoy being the water, but crave a more social experience, you could look for aqua aerobics classes which use the support and resistance of the water to enhance exercise routines, or a water polo group which adds a team game element to the exercise.
2. Get into the swing of Golf
Golf is sometimes looked at as a sedentary sport, but actually it’s great for the body, as you are outdoors in the fresh air, walking a sizable course, and the brain gets a workout too through the concentration needed to consider the shots and through the social side.
There are lots of golf clubs around who offer lessons, so if you are a nervous beginner, that would be an ideal way to start, and gain confidence before you set off on your own.
3. Anyone for Tennis?
Sports that promote hand-eye coordination like tennis, badminton and squash are excellent for older people as they keep the brain and body working together. The constant moving about the court not only helps build strength and helps cardio-vascular health, but also improves balance which can help prevent falls in later life. Court-sports can be played all year round, indoors and out, and often local facilities offer senior leagues ensuring you can play with people of a similar age and ability.
Cycling is a sport that can be done with friends, a partner or family, and can be incorporated into your lifestyle for fun days out. Why not cycle to a local beauty-spot or somewhere for a nice lunch?
Many older people enjoy cycling as they can choose the pace of the exercise, and it has the benefits of being easy on the joints, improves balance, and promotes mental health – there’s a sense of achievement and getting away from the daily grind after a good cycle ride.
If the winter weather puts you off, in the colder months you could seek out a spinning class at your local gym.
If traditional sports aren’t quite your thing, for something a bit different, but still good exercise, try bowling. Bowling has surprising health benefits, promoting balance, coordination and muscle strengthening. The big plus with bowling is the social side of being on a team, meeting new people and regular meet ups, helping prevent loneliness and helping you have a rounded social life.
Looking for other ways to keep fit? If you have a dog, playing games with your dog are a great way to keep active and if you over indulge over the Easter period here were our top 10 ways to detox.