Staying active as we age is a critical part of maintaining our health. You may think that your body can’t handle playing a sport, or that there are no sports for people your age, but think again! Senior sports are on the rise and there are leagues and communities popping up all over.
There are so many benefits from continuing to exercise in your later years. Exercise not only helps our bodies stay strong and limber, but it is also a great way to keep our minds sharp. Getting older can sometimes mean that we stop socializing as much, but joining a senior sports league can help us find a strong sense of community. These are just a few of the reasons why it is important to find an active hobby that you enjoy. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out our list of some of the best and most popular sports among seniors!
Tennis can be intimidating, and ping pong doesn’t always bring on a physical challenge. What’s right there in the middle and great for all ages? Pickleball!
Pickleball has been on the rise in popularity the past few years, with playing facilities and neighborhood courts popping up all over. With a court that is about a third to a fourth of the size of a tennis court, and most players choosing to play as a team of doubles, the sport is a lot more manageable for those who aren’t as limber as they once were.
To play pickleball, one must simply have a racket/paddle and a regulation ball. Similar to tennis, opponents set up on either set of a net and hit the ball back and forth until one player or team commits an infraction. The ball used is less bouncy than a tennis ball, which results in a more dynamic pace for the game, as well as a range of shots a player can use to their advantage.
The sport was first invented in the Pacific Northwest, but recently has expanded in popularity across the country. There are senior leagues all over, but just setting up a pickup game with your neighbors or friends is a great place to start. You may worry that this sport has too much running and pivoting, but due to the size of the court, you will be pleasantly surprised at how adaptable the sport is to your needs.
The term Martial Arts covers so many different practices. From Judo to Karate to Aikido, there is a wide range of types to choose from that each have their own focus. This is good news for older adults, because you will be able to find a practice that speaks to your mind and soul, but also that adapts to your physical needs.
The great thing about Martial Arts is that it can be very gentle on your joints. It also has a strong focus on balance, which is something we lose as we get older. Similar to yoga, many people find practicing Martial Arts to have spiritual or emotional benefits as well.
The great thing about these sports is that you really don’t need equipment. Some classes may require you to buy and wear a traditional uniform, but many senior classes are happy to let you come in your own athletic gear. This means that the barrier to entry is small, so trying things out really has very little risk. Martial Arts for seniors is a great option for those that don’t want to take on a lot of high speed movements, but want to continue to maintain strength and coordination.
It’s widely known that exercising in the water is a great way for seniors to safely get in exercise. By removing pressure on the joints, exercising in the water means that you will have a much easier time performing movements safely. Water sports greatly range in theme, but something they all have in common is an increase in your mobility and endurance.
If you are interested in water sports, you really just need a swimsuit and access to a pool to get started. Many community gyms offer water sport classes for all ages, and some even have senior-focused sessions. You can even take the term “sports” loosely as many people simply enjoy water walking, which is a great low impact way to work your muscles in the shallow end of a pool.
For those that are looking for a bit more action, there is water basketball and volleyball to help you relive your glory days. Water aerobics is a great cardio burst, while paddle boarding is a wonderful balance challenge. There really is an option for everyone, and there’s always a fun game of Marco Polo to get you started.
Yoga is an amazing activity for all walks of life. Most people are familiar with the concept of yoga, but don’t realize how many different types there are. From Ashtanga to Vinyasa, and everything in between, you should be able to find a practice that lines up with your goals.
The benefits of doing yoga are seemingly never ending. From increased balance, strength, and flexibility to enhanced mental stamina, emotional awareness, and spiritual connectedness, yoga can improve many parts of your life. Most teachers are more than happy to give you different adaptations of moves for where you are at with your mobility.
To get started in yoga, you will need a yoga mat, which can be found at most sporting goods and big box stores. Most classes will provide blocks for you to use, but those can also be purchased. Most classes have students work in barefoot, but there are grippy socks you can put on if you prefer. Yoga can be done anywhere and with any number of people, including by yourself. To get started there are wonderful classes in every city you can try, as well as classes online.
Photo by Centre for Ageing Better at Pexels
Golf is a classic sport for people of all ages. Golf is easy on your joints, especially if you choose to ride in a cart between shots. It is a wonderful social activity that you can do with your friends, or will allow you to meet new people through leagues.
Golf does require a lot of equipment that can get pricey. You will need a set of clubs, gloves, shoes, and proper attire. Additionally, you will have to pay for a round, and set up a tee time, so the entry into golf is a bit higher. Many people absolutely love the sport once they get started, and use it as time to spend with their friends while getting some exercise.
It can take awhile to get decent at golf, but if you have patience with yourself, you will come to find that you can enjoy being outside swinging the club without needing to be the best on the course. Golf is wonderful for seniors because it is so low impact and you can go at your own pace. There are courses everywhere, but also taking lessons is a great place to start.
We’ve covered just a few of the sports that are great options for seniors. It is so important to keep active as we get older. It can be tempting to just want to lounge around and relax most of the time, especially if we are self-conscious about our mobility. Continually moving will help you stay healthy longer, and can keep you mentally sharp.
If you are nervous to try a new sport, find a friend or family member to go with you. And remember, you aren’t trying to be the next Olympian, but simply trying to get some movement and enjoy what your body can still do for you!
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