Aging doesn’t have to come with a decrease in activity for senior citizens. In fact, staying active is essential for seniors who want to maintain their independence and prevent injuries as they get older.
Playing sports is a great option for seniors who are looking for new ways to stay active. Along with providing a variety of physical health benefits, sports — team sports, in particular — also give seniors a chance to socialize and make new friends.
For seniors who are new to sports or have taken a long break from regular activity, these four low-impact options are a great place to start.
Swimming is the perfect low-impact exercise option for seniors who want to stay active without putting stress on their joints.
One study even showed that swimming between three and five times per week can also significantly slow down the aging process. There are a number of reasons for this, including the fact that swimming promotes good blood circulation, cardiovascular health, and muscular strength. It is also a great stress reliever.
For seniors who want to reap the social benefits of exercise along with better physical health, water aerobics classes are a great alternative to simply swimming laps.
Swimming and water aerobics are both especially good for seniors who need to lose some extra weight. These activities help them burn lots of calories — more than many other activities — which can relieve joint pain and improve mobility.
Tennis is a great sport for people of all ages. Running back and forth across the court helps boost cardiovascular health, and it can strengthen the muscles in the upper and lower body while also improving reflexes and hand-eye coordination.
Like swimming, tennis also helps seniors burn lots of calories during a single match. It’s a good option for people who need to lose extra weight but want to do it in a fun way.
Some seniors are hesitant to take up sports like tennis because they’re worried that it will cause joint pain or soreness. Regular activity can actually help relieve pain and soreness, though. For those who have an old injury like tennis elbow that flares up from time to time, wearing a compression brace can relieve pain and other symptoms without taking them out of the game completely.
3. Bocce Ball
Bocce ball is a fun and social sport that is perfect for seniors. It involves rolling a small ball onto a court or lawn. Then, members of different teams will take turns tossing a larger ball as close as possible to the small ball. The team that gets the greatest number of balls close to the small ball is the winner.
In addition to helping them maintain their physical health in a low-impact way, bocce ball also helps seniors work on their coordination and provides them with a fun mental challenge since there is a lot of strategy involved.
Bocce ball is easy to adapt to make it accessible to seniors with mobility limitations and disabilities, too. Ramps and gutters make rolling the ball easier, and special launching tools can help seniors throw the ball without straining their muscles.
Pickleball combines components of sports like badminton, tennis, and ping pong to create a new, senior-friendly activity. It uses a paddle that looks like a big ping pong paddle and a ball that is slightly smaller than a wiffle ball.
Pickleball can be played indoors or outdoors (it’s easy to modify a tennis or badminton court), alone or on teams. It’s lower impact that tennis and other racquet sports, but still helps seniors work on their cardiovascular health and coordination.
Many sporting goods stores sell pickleball equipment, but they’re also available online for those who don’t have easy access to these stores. Because pickleball has become more popular in recent years, leagues are also popping up throughout the country, so seniors can easily join a group and find people to teach them the ropes.
Staying active is essential for seniors who want to stay physically healthy and mentally sharp. These low-impact sports are all great options for both beginners and more advanced athletes looking to try something new.