Who said getting older has to be boring? Your retirement years offer a wealth of opportunities for taking up that sport you always wanted to try but never had time for. The health benefits don’t disappear just because you’ve been around for a few years. In fact, the benefits of regularly taking part in low-impact sports can have the most profound effects on the physical and mental health of older adults.
Below, you’ll discover the main benefits of physical activity and learn about the top five sports for seniors.
Health Benefits of Physical Activity
Stay active for a reduced risk of many diseases and to improve cognitive skills, maintain the cardiovascular system, improve balance, strengthen core muscles and more. Let’s take a look at some of the medical conditions light activity can counteract in more detail.
Fitness has a bad reputation as something you have to do until it’s no longer enjoyable, but that’s just not true. Movement should be a fun, engaging and carefree way to pass time and interact with other people, not something you stress over or dread doing.
Did you know that your fitness level and physical balance are closely tied? The majority of falls occur because a person has become frail, with insufficient muscle to support the body. What’s more, if you exercise regularly, you can improve your spatial awareness and cognitive ability so that it becomes easier to stay upright.
Your mental health and physical health are linked to such an extent that the more you move, the healthier your brain remains. This is because movement signals to the brain that it’s time to release essential hormones and neurotransmitters to keep you going. Staying sedentary can lead to imbalances, as the brain doesn’t see any reason to keep releasing as many of these vital chemicals.
Maintain Muscle Mass
Of course, working out helps you maintain muscle mass, which actually starts to decline as early as 30 years old. As you age, you need to exercise to keep the muscle that dictates how fast your metabolism is and helps you stand up straight and tall. In fact, if you’ve maintained a regular strength and cardio program throughout your life, you’ve significantly reduced the risk of falls, osteoporosis, arthritis and other common ailments.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and exercise is one of the best ways to keep the heart healthy. As a muscle and organ, the health of your heart is determined by how often you use it. Taking part in exercise that gets your heart rate going gives the muscle the push it needs to remain strong and healthy. It also helps ensure your blood vessels are expanding and contracting correctly and contributes to maintaining lung health.
When you exercise regularly as an older adult, your system is on high alert and ready to tackle germs and bacteria that might come along. Movement signals to immune cells that they need to perform properly in addition to increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation and stress, both of which can seriously hamper immunity.
There’s a saying in the fitness community, “Move it or lose it,” and it’s true with regard to muscle, joints and pretty much any other aspect of an older adult’s physical health. By regularly keeping your joints moving and exploring your body’s full range of motion, you have the best chance of staying strong and healthy. Keep in mind that you need to strike a balance. Overtraining or using weights that are too heavy can negatively impact joints, so be sure to take a balanced approach.
Top Five Sports for Seniors
Few feelings are more satisfying than getting out into the fresh air and enjoying some exercise and nature at the same time. Not all sports take place outdoors, but you should try to get out there as much as possible to enjoy all the positive effects.
1. Regular Walking
Even though it’s something we all do without thinking about it, walking is a good workout. You move your entire body and develop core strength by holding yourself up. Even if you have some issues with mobility, walking can still be a great sport all year round. You might need specially designed walking poles or a walking stick, but with the right equipment, practically anyone can improve their physical condition by taking frequent walks.
2. Water Sport
Being in the water is a wonderful way to stave off health problems associated with a lack of exercise. Whether you head to the local pool for a swim or take part in a water polo or water aerobics class, exercise in water is great. It’s both cardio and resistance exercise, plus it’s low impact.
3. Lawn Bowling
Another great exercise is lawn bowling, which is ideal for people who are looking to play a low-impact team sport. Competitive sports can be particularly good for cognition because they stimulate additional neurotransmitters and get competitively minded folks excited and focused on achievement. When you’re in a winning mindset, health can be much easier to maintain!
4. Martial Arts
Martial arts such as tai chi are excellent full-body workouts, helping you build strength, improve hand-eye coordination and develop speed and agility. Tai chi is an ancient oriental form, but even something gentle like yoga or Pilates can serve the same purpose by helping you extend your range of motion and improve the mind-muscle connection.
5. Any Net and Ball Game
Some of the best sports for people of any age are net and ball games. You can opt for an outdoor sport like tennis or badminton, where you can play singles on a smaller court. Or, try indoor Ping-Pong if you prefer. There’s just as much chance to move around and show your skills in Ping-Pong as there is in tennis.
Join in the Fun at Riddle Village
If you’re looking for an independent living community in Media with a daily routine packed with opportunities for individual and team sports activities, Riddle Village is perfect. Our residents enjoy an active lifestyle in addition to luxurious amenities and stunning grounds. Get in touch today to arrange a visit.