Seniors playing doubles pickleball

Staying physically active in your retirement years may be the closest thing to a magic youth elixir you can find. You may be tempted to enjoy a slower pace and more sedentary lifestyle once you retire, but finding exercises and activities you enjoy, or even participating in sports for older adults, offers numerous benefits for your physical and mental health.

In your younger years, you may have thought of exercise or recreational sports as a way to stay fit and manage your weight. While those benefits carry into the later stages of life, physical activity takes on several other important roles, as well.

Why Physical Activity is a Priority as You Age

One of the biggest benefits of staying active is the impact on your mobility. Using your muscles keeps them toned and strong so you can move more freely. It also promotes bone strength and better balance, all of which works together to reduce your risk of falling.

In addition to helping with joint conditions like arthritis, physical activity can affect your risk of numerous other conditions and diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer.

Physical activity also affects your cognitive and mental health; workouts get your blood pumping all over, including your brain, for better cognitive function. Physical activity also triggers feel-good hormones that can help reduce depression and anxiety.

Popular Sports for Older Adults

Now that you know why exercise for seniors is so important, you may be wondering about the best activities and sports for seniors. Generally, the best sports for older adults are relatively low impact and adaptable so you can modify the sport to fit your abilities.

Swimming: Your joints benefit from water’s natural buoyancy, making swimming a great sport for older adults who have joint trouble. Another advantage is the whole-body workout you get from swimming, and although it can be a relatively low-impact activity, swimming counts as aerobic exercise, so it’s good for your heart.

Shuffleboard: Whether you play on a court or on a table, shuffleboard is also among the best sports for adults. It’s a multiplayer activity so it promotes socialization, which is also good for your health, and the strategy involved in placing the disc for better scoring is good for your cognitive health. While shuffleboard isn’t a highly athletic sport, it’s a great example of the benefits of simply moving rather than sitting.

Golf: Between the upper-body workout that comes with swinging a golf club and the walking you’ll do on the course, golf is another full-body workout. It’s a popular sport for older adults because it allows for social time with a small circle of friends. Using senior-friendly clubs and limiting your game to nine holes instead of the full 18 are two ways you can easily adapt the game to your abilities.

Pickleball: This fun and social racket sport has relatively inexpensive equipment costs and is easy to learn. Pickleball gives you a good aerobic workout without as much stress and strain on joints and muscles and can also help improve your balance and agility. No wonder it’s one of the fastest growing sports for older adults.

Other Popular Activities for Older Adults

Mind-body classes: Low-impact fitness classes are a terrific option for seniors because the pace is attainable, and the poses can generally be modified to fit your personal condition. Yoga is an example that involves a series of poses you transition to, then hold. Tai chi is a form of martial arts that involves steady, fluid movements. Both involve self-awareness and meditation, so you benefit physically and mentally.

Gardening: It may seem like a hobby that has nothing to do with your physical well-being, but gardening can be quite a bit of work, even if you’re enjoying yourself so much you don’t really notice. All of the bending, reaching and maneuvering you do while tending a garden affect all your major muscle groups, and as you shift your weight and balance moving among your plants, you’re building your core, strengthening your bones and keeping joints loose.

Find Support for Your Senior Fitness Goals

Choosing the right place to retire can have a major impact on your plans to be an active retiree. Fellowship Senior Living makes it easy to make wellness a priority, and the expansion that’s now underway is bringing even more resources to residents, including a state-of-the-art fitness center; sports for older adults, like bocce ball, shuffleboard and pickleball courts; and expanded walking trails throughout the 72-acre wooded campus. Learn more about this not-for-profit senior living community in Somerset County, New Jersey.