This Sports That Will Keep You Healthy article is sponsored by JAG Physical Therapy.
Exercise is essential for all ages, but staying active as you get older is particularly important. Many studies have shown that older adults who exercise regularly are much more likely to retain their ability to walk unassisted as they age. Elderly people who can move independently are less likely to suffer from illnesses and tend to live longer than those with mobility impairments.
So there’s no doubt that exercise will help you stay healthy as you get older. But what type of exercise should you do? Let’s look at five activities that are highly beneficial for older adults.
Cycling is a great activity for older adults because it is easy on the joints, and the risk of injury on an indoor stationary bike is extremely low. It will give you a cardio workout, and it will also strengthen your lower body, which will help you to stay mobile as you get older. Indoor cycling classes have become quite popular, and you may be able to find a class in your area that specifically caters to an older age group.
Swimming is another sport that is easy on the joints, has a low risk of injury, and allows you to start slowly and proceed at your own pace. But this may also have an extra benefit: preventing falls. One study found that older adults who swam regularly were significantly less likely to fall than older adults who did other types of exercise. This may be because swimming builds strong core muscles, which help your balance.
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be flexible in order to do yoga. You can start by doing simple, easy yoga poses that feel comfortable for you. Perhaps there is a yoga studio near you that offers a class for seniors, or a “gentle” class. You can also look on YouTube to find yoga routines for older adults.
Practicing yoga regularly, even if you start with just easy poses, will gradually increase your strength and flexibility. There is also some evidence that yoga may help prevent osteoporosis.
Weightlifting might seem like a completely illogical choice for seniors, but there are actually many proven benefits of weightlifting for older adults. It combats the muscle loss that we tend to experience as we age. And research has shown that strength training can preserve bone density and help seniors maintain independence.
If you want to try weightlifting, only do so under the guidance of a personal trainer who has experience working with older adults. A good personal trainer will ensure that you lift an appropriate amount of weight and use the best technique to prevent injury.
Tennis gives you a cardio workout, and it improves balance and coordination. It is a sport that ages with you, or that you can learn to play later in life. But what if you don’t feel comfortable running back and forth across a tennis court? You could give pickleball a try.
Pickleball has become a very popular sport among seniors. It’s similar to tennis, but it’s played on a much smaller court and always with partners, so you don’t have to move more than a few steps. If you want to play an active, competitive sport, but running isn’t for you, pickleball might be your game.
No matter what type of exercise you want to try, you should always talk to your doctor first to make sure that you can do the activity safely. Remember that it’s okay to start slow. As long as you’re moving, you’re on your way to better health.
All Photos: Licensed from Adobe Stock