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10 great sports for seniors

Retirement Living Lifestyle Wellbeing
18 November 2020
Sports for seniors

There’s nothing quite like the sense of personal satisfaction and camaraderie to be found when exercising or playing a team sport with a group of people.

However, as we get older, many of us become more aware and conscious of the risk of injury, especially as our bodies and fitness levels change.

So, what exercises and sports are best for seniors? There’s a range of options available, but ultimately it depends on the individual and their own personal goals.

The Federal Department of Health recommends a combination of four main activities to help keep you healthy:

  • Moderate activities – for your heart, lungs and blood vessels
  • Strength activities – to help maintain bone strength
  • Flexibility activities – to help you move more easily
  • Balancing activities – to improve your balance and help prevent falls.

It’s always best to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen or sporting activity to make sure it’s safe for you to do so.

Here are 10 sports that you might enjoy:

1. Walking

Going for a walk is a great exercise to help build your bone health – and it’s good for your heart, too. Why not rally a group of friends and start moving together? You’ll get your exercise in for the day – and a bit of socialising too! Aim for 30 minutes a day at least four times per week. If you’re worried about injuring yourself on uneven or cracked walking pathways, a treadmill is a great alternative.

2. Swimming

Exercising in the water reduces the impact on your joints, which makes it a popular choice for people who suffer from arthritis. Swimming can help improve your cardiovascular health and muscle strength and strengthen your ligaments and tendons too. If you’re wanting to up the intensity, you can wear flippers or use leg weights while you’re swimming as they add more resistance and make your muscles work harder. 

3. Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a low-impact activity and involves gentle movements. No fancy equipment is needed, so it’s easy to get started. When doing Tai Chi, your muscles are usually relaxed rather than tensed, joints are not fully extended or bent, and connective tissues are not stretched. This means you’re improving your flexibility and muscle strength without putting too much stress on your body. Tai Chi can also help improve your balance which reduces your risk of having a fall.

4. Yoga

Yoga not only improves your physical health, it also helps reduce stress due to the relaxing meditating properties of the various movements and stretches. It’s a low-impact exercise that can improve your core balance, strength, respiratory flow and muscle flexibility, especially when doing it multiple times a week.

5. Dancing

If you’re going to exercise, you might as well have fun with it, right? Dancing is one of the most enjoyable ways to get a full body workout. It can improve energy levels, reduce the risk of heart disease, improve memory and mood, and improve your balance. If you have limited balance and capabilities, you can try seat dancing which is a seated exercise, or line dancing, which puts less impact and stress on your joints.

6. Tennis

Improved hand-eye coordination, bone strength and balance are among the many benefits of playing tennis. Running in different directions, transferring body weight from foot to foot, and swinging the racket with your arms gives the whole body a great workout. Tennis is typically more fast-paced than other sports, so it’s important to take it easy to begin with if this is your first time playing.

7. Golf

Golf is a great exercise to get your joints moving due to the movements involved when swinging the club in a wide range of motion. Playing golf also gets your blood circulation going which encourages your heart to work more efficiently and help build its muscles. While it’s not a high-energy sport, all that swinging, putting and waking around the course really does add up. Additionally, the social aspect and concentration involved in the game also helps improve your focus and overall mental wellbeing.

8. Lawn bowls

Lawn bowls promotes balance and coordination, and is a good workout due to the weight of the bowls, and the amount of walking involved. It’s also a great social sport which fosters skill development, enhanced mental wellbeing and friendly competition. There are also many aids available to help you pick up your bowls if bending and lifting puts too much strain on your back or knees.

9. Croquet

For a much lighter sporting activity, croquet is the perfect excuse to get outside and exercise at your own pace. It may not be the most intense workout you’ve ever had, but much like chess, the game is very mentally stimulating and involves a lot of thought to solve the puzzle. It’s also a great way to meet people and develop new friendships.

10. Walking soccer

That’s right – no running allowed! Walking soccer is a great way to join in on a team sport that you love while minimising the stress on joints and the risk of injury. The low-impact sport can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure, and improve mobility. Plus, the teamwork component makes for a great social activity.

Note: It’s always best to consult your doctor for a plan that is best-suited to your individual needs. Remember to always start your exercise program at a low level and progress slowly – especially if you haven’t exercised in a long time. Exercise that is too intense, too quickly may increase your risk of injury.

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