Despite of what one may think, sports aren’t only for the young people and it’s in fact strongly recommended for the older people too.
It doesn’t mean that you need to go out in the field, as there are so many energetic ways that an elderly feels comfortable for practicing.
Why should the elderly practice sports?
It may sound incredible, but from the age of 50, the muscle mass and the whole strength is going to decrease by 40 up to 50%, give or take.
Once we get older, we tend to gain weight, the shortness of breath gets higher and our physical balance weakens as well. An elderly is going to experience difficulties for remaining independent, presenting a higher risk for falling. This doesn’t mean that an elderly should stay inactive. By contrary, some gentle exercises are going to be amazing for their physical and mental health too.
Here’s what sports can do for an elderly:
- It lowers the risk for obesity
- It reduces the risk for falling
- It can help with osteoporosis
- It improves the immune system
- It keeps the muscle mass
- It develops a social connection, keeping depression at bay
- It reduces stress and maintains the risk for a heart disease low
- It helps with the decrease of cholesterol
First thing first: check your physical condition
Even if planning to practice some sports and physical activity is a good thing, you should begin by checking with your doctor first.
It’s fundamental as an elderly to have a chat with your current doctor or any other sports medicine doctor to check if your health condition allows you to do any sports at all.
No matter the case of your health condition, it’s better that you play it safe before you start practicing some sports:
- You should do it on a regular basis so that you keep a low risk for injuries, but a better chance for good performances
- It’s better not to start a physical activity right away. You should be progressive about the training
- Always wear the right equipment. The right shoes and clothes are mandatory
- Try to stay away from the violent efforts and sport competitions
- Keep an eye on the hypothermia and dehydration. Drinking on a regular basis is mandatory.
What are the best options for the elderly?
Once you’ve taken these matter under consideration, you should do due diligence about the sports that you can play. Physical performances after 50 years old are a bit different from those you may engage into when you’re in your 20s. But this doesn’t mean that you cannot improve your fitness and flexibility at any age.
If you have never practiced any sports, some may be off limits for you. Tennis, squash, skiing isn’t the best choice as they can all overstress your body joints. Running isn’t better either as it may be too exhausting for your heart and knees. But this doesn’t mean that you’ve ran out of options e.g Tevida.
Yoga is going to harmonize your body and spirit and has been around for centuries. Based on soft sequential movements and breath techniques, yoga is going to relax your muscles and tone up your internal organs. It’s also going to soften your joints and some yoga positions alleviate pain, especially back pains.
- Nordic walking
Walking 15 minutes per day is going to be good exercise for expanding your lifespan with 3 years.
Nordic walking is a traditional sport that comes all the way from Scandinavia. You’re walking fast in snowy fields and you need to use carbon fiber sticks for practicing (that’s the main difference between Nordic walking and regular walking).
As you’re pushing the sticks both horizontally and vertically, you’re going to exercise your arms, shoulders, pectoral muscles and gluteal muscles. The harmonious and well-balanced exercise of endurance is going to lead to less shocks and impacts. The sticks are in fact able to reduce more than 1 third of the weight that shock your knees.
As long as they’re practiced indoor, gymnastics are a great sport for the elderly. The exercises are typically practiced in groups, helping your body get stronger and more toned.
- Gym memory
Even this type of sports isn’t that popular, it’s a good option to keep in mind when you’re older as it trains your memorization, concentration and coordination in a nice way. It’s a great sport that prevent Alzheimer.
This is a softer physical activity. It’s in fact a re-education method that professional sportsmen practice and teach. It has been winning plenty of fans in the last 15 years.
- Tai Chi Chuan
The traditional Chinese practice is combining therapeutic exercises and helps the elderly suffering of arthritis or heart conditions to stay in good shape. It strengthens your muscle tone and improves your flexibility and balance as it involves fluid and slow movements. In addition, martial arts are capable to prevent falls as it’s a lot about balance and coordination.
Are the outdoor activities a good choice?
The tricycle is helping the seniors with balance problems, while enjoying the fresh air and the scenery. Golf and archery are also goof for coordination, agility and fresh air as well.
If you’re struggling with degenerative osteoarthritis in the hips, knees or ankles, biking is a good sport for you too. You should also consider it if you are overweight.
Try not to get involved in competitive sports as it may be difficult to keep up with your opponents. Last thing you want is to get an injury while you’re out there on the field.
What about the unusual activities?
This may seem like a surprise to you, but some video games (Wii Therapy, Xbox), are a fun way for the elderly to stay in shape. They involve various exercises that don’t require to get out of the building. They help you with balance, improve your memory and keep you in good shape too.
The “walking stick defense” is another therapeutic activity that can help the elderly. It improves the balance and develops social links as the roleplaying always require an aggressor and an attacked person. Initially, the walking stick was a self-defense tool, but it has become a tool for people suffering of Alzheimer as well.
One final thought before you head out to the gym
Truth be told, beginning a sport is easier than you may think. keeping yourself interested and practicing it on a regular basis is completely different. No matter the rules, you still want to have some fun while practicing a sport. It’s better not to push yourself and have mercy on your body; there’s only that much that it can do.
As long as you know your limits and stay focuses on the main purpose of the sports activity, you should never postpone your sports activity. Impossible is nothing, remember?