For seniors, maintaining their agility and flexibility and supporting good cardiovascular health can be a difficult task. However, these two needs are intertwined and can be easily met through physical activity and sports.
Physical activity also aids seniors in maintaining their weight and maintaining mobility, as well as lowering their risk of cancer and heart disease and improving their mental health.
Finding exercises doesn’t have to be a time-consuming endeavor for seniors to complete. Sports promote social interaction and are an excellent way for seniors to maintain a healthy level of physical activity. Once a senior discovers a sport that they enjoy, they can continue to participate in it regularly.
When selecting a sport, it’s essential to consider your physical abilities and your medical conditions. Sports can give you a wide range of mental and physical health benefits, and all of these should be taken into consideration when choosing your new sport.
As a beginner, you should opt for a light to moderate sport to build up your stamina and get your body used to the extra activity levels. Once you have become accustomed, you can step up the intensity or move into a new sport that requires more physical exertion.
The Benefits of Sport for Seniors
- Sport is fun – The practice of fitness has a bad reputation as something that must be done until it becomes unenjoyable, but this is not true. The act of moving should be a pleasurable, engaging, and carefree way to pass the time and interact with others, rather than something to be dreaded or stressed about.
- Beneficial for mental health – Your physical and mental health are so intertwined that the more you move, the healthier your brain remains. Because movement signals to the brain that it is time to release essential hormones and neurotransmitters to keep you going, it is considered beneficial. Staying sedentary can cause hormonal imbalances because the brain doesn’t see any reason to continue releasing as many of these vital chemicals as it would otherwise.
- Improved balance – Did you know that your level of fitness and physical balance are inextricably intertwined? The fitter you are, the greater sense of balance you will gain. By engaging in regular physical activity, you can improve your spatial awareness and cognitive ability, making it easier to maintain your upright position.
As you age, your body changes, meaning you need to pay closer attention to strain or undue stresses on your joints, mainly to avoid injury. Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone, and those who have been consistently active may find themselves able to carry on as usual.
With this in mind, what are the best sports for seniors?
Pickleball is a fast-growing sport in the US and combines badminton, tennis, and table tennis elements. You play on a badminton-size court using paddle boards, and it is an excellent court activity to help you get your heart pumping and focus on coordination. You can get ready for the court by picking the right pickleball outfit and shoes along with equipment to help you to get started.
Walking is a good workout, even though it is something that we all do without thinking about it. Holding yourself up allows you to move your entire body while also developing core strength. Walking is a great sport to participate in at any time of year, even if you have some mobility issues of your own. It may be necessary to use specially designed walking poles or a walking stick. Still, almost anyone can improve their physical condition simply by taking frequent walks around the neighborhood with the proper equipment.
Walking aims to raise your heart rate slightly to get the full benefits. You can adapt the speed to your comfort level, but at first, you should aim to be somewhat out of breath but not so much that you cannot hold a conversation.
If you feel more adventurous, you can join walking or hiking groups to give your walks some variation, work different body parts and muscles, and improve your stamina further. Hills and mountainous areas can further push you when you are ready for the challenge.
Swimming increases the size and strength of your heart while improving your cardiovascular health and endurance. It will also help lower your blood pressure, improve your circulation, and reduce your risk of developing heart and lung disease due to exercise. Also, swimming is gentle on the joints because it is not a weight-bearing activity, making it a good choice for people who suffer from joint pain and discomfort. With this full-body workout, you’ll be able to keep the pressure off your hips, knees, and back.
Another benefit of swimming is that it can help increase bone mineral density, which will aid in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. This is particularly important for women because osteoporosis is responsible for one-third of all bone fractures in women over the age of 50 and a fifth of all bone fractures in men over 50.
In addition to stretching before and after exercise, the act of swimming itself can help you gain more flexibility in your hips, legs, arms, and neck, as well as in your overall body. It can also aid in the improvement of your posture and the alleviation of back pain.
Practicing yoga for seniors can help prevent the onset of osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to become brittle and weak. Osteoporosis occurs when the formation of new bone cannot keep up with the loss of bone mass and density due to the natural aging process.
Yoga is a relaxing way to let go of the tension you’re holding in your body, particularly in your shoulders and upper back, and relieve stress. It has been shown to help alleviate some of the pressures that contribute to hypertension, resulting in a reduction in the number of medications required on a day-to-day basis. Yoga can also help you feel less anxious by lowering your heart rate and blood pressure and making it easier to breathe and sleep.
With the slow, measured movements required for yoga postures, you can achieve better balance and training, which can help you avoid falling. Given that falls are the leading cause of injury among seniors, yoga can assist you in developing the skills you need to improve your mobility and move around more safely.
Dancing is beneficial for seniors because it helps to keep you fit and in good health. Dancing regularly will assist you in maintaining strength and strong bones, improving posture and muscle strength, increasing balance and coordination, and relieving any stress you may be experiencing. Dancing is classified as an aerobic activity that burns calories while also working the heart muscle. It is suitable for people of any age or fitness level to participate in.
The practice of dancing or engaging in some form of aerobic exercise 5 to 6 days per week can help improve energy levels, lower the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes while also strengthening the heart of your seniors and improving their overall mood.
The best part about dancing for exercise is there are so many different dance styles to choose from, meaning you can easily find something you enjoy doing, so you aren’t stuck doing something that gives you joy and is fun. After all, you still want to be having fun when working out.
It is never too late to incorporate exercise into your daily routine, and while seniors might not have the health or fitness levels of their younger counterparts, the benefits of getting even 30 minutes of exercise 4-5 times a week can be incredibly beneficial.