For a lot of seniors, when it is recommended by their doctor that they “get more exercise,” they cringe, thinking it will be an unpleasant chore. And while some people truly enjoy exercising – activities like lifting weights, fast-paced walking, riding a bicycle, etc. – others see it as painful and exhausting with sore muscles as their only reward.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Thinking back, there may have been a time when you actually enjoyed the exercise you were getting, especially if you participated in any kind of sport. As we get older, though, getting together with a group of friends to play tackle football or full-court basketball may not be realistic. After all, as we age, our strength, reflexes, and quickness diminish. It also takes a lot longer to recover after the game is over.
That said, there are plenty of sports that seniors can play, allowing you to get the exercise you need and have fun in the process. And it’s important because exercise helps you maintain the health of your heart, keep your weight in check, and even reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Plus, it’s great for your cognitive health and emotional wellbeing.
So, if you feel like you want to get your competitive juices flowing in a way that’s safe and healthy, try one of these senior-friendly sports to get started:
Actually, any activity you can do in a swimming pool is great for seniors because it takes much of the weight off of your feet, ankles, knees, and hips. And all it takes to have an exciting game of pool volleyball is a net, a ball, and at least one other friend (although it’s more fun with a few players on each team!) Just make sure you put on sunscreen, especially if you’re in an outdoor pool under the Florida sun!
While it’s certainly not the most strenuous sport, golf is great for getting out in the fresh air. Plus, there’s a decent amount of walking, even if you use a cart. Golf also requires you to think strategically about each shot and keep score, which helps keep your brain sharp. And if you think about it, hitting a tiny golf ball and keeping it anywhere near the fairway takes a lot of hand-eye coordination.
Bocce or Pétanque
While there are some differences, bocce and pétanque are both games that involve rolling or tossing a large ball toward a smaller target ball and trying to get closer to it than your opponent. The main difference between the two sports is that, in bocce, the players can stride toward the target as they release the ball, while in pétanque, the player stands in one spot. Both are outstanding social activities that get your body moving.
At one time, practically every hotel in the state of Florida had a shuffleboard court on its grounds. In this low-impact game, players use a long cue to push a weighted disc so it will slide down a narrow court toward a marked scoring area. In addition to the exercise you get pushing the disc toward the other end of the court, shuffleboard also involves strategic thinking and a little math for keeping score.
Other sports seniors can try include pickleball, which is a little like tennis, as well as bowling, croquet, and badminton. And while they aren’t actual “sports” in the competitive sense, many seniors also enjoy yoga, swimming, walking, and dancing as a fun way to get exercise.