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HEALTHY AGEING

Eight great sports for elderly people to try

We look at a range of sports for the elderly that are fun and can improve overall health and well-being in older adults.

May 24, 2023

Elderly men playing walking football

As we age, staying active can become a real challenge. Our bodies and minds may not function as swiftly as they once did, there can sometimes be health conditions to consider, and it can be disheartening when we realise that our physical capabilities have changed over time.

However, it is crucial for the elderly to prioritise regular exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle to help prevent mental and physical health conditions from developing or worsening. Improving strength, bone density and balance with regular exercise can also help reduce the risk of falls.

Embarking on a fitness journey can be daunting for many older adults, especially if you're unsure where to begin. That's why trying out new sports is an ideal way to stay active and to see what you enjoy most. Sports provide a simple starting point and a tangible goal to strive for, whether that is a team sport or a solo activity.

In this article, we look into eight sports for the elderly, which can be easily tailored to accommodate their unique needs, challenges and abilities. 

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The benefits of taking up a new sport

Taking up a new sport and continuing to actively exercise in your older years can bring about a multitude of benefits, both physically and mentally. Some of the key advantages of engaging in a new sport as you age are: 

  • Improved physical fitness: Taking part in a new sport helps to introduce more physical activity into your weekly routine. Increasing physical activity is key to improving many parts of your body, including muscle strength, balance and coordination, and also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by 35%.
  • Mental stimulation: Mastering a new sport entails an immense amount of mental engagement and problem-solving skills. It requires your brain to learn new rules, strategies and techniques which can help improve cognitive function and mental agility. Continuing to challenge and use your brain is essential as you get older to improve concentration, sharpness, and memory.
  • Social interaction: Forming new connections and cultivating friendships can sometimes be challenging as you get older. However, joining a sports team or engaging in group activities presents an excellent chance for social interaction and community involvement. It provides an opportunity to meet other people with similar interests and hobbies which overall helps to improve emotional well-being, loneliness, and isolation.

 Read the benefits of exercise for older adults for more information.

 

Sports for over 50’s 

1. Walking for the elderly

Walking is a gentle exercise that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, making it an excellent choice for the elderly. Not only has walking been proven to improve stress and anxiety, it also boosts cardiovascular health, strengthens muscles and bones and also improves balance and coordination.

Plus, walking outside provides the added bonus of fresh air, the opportunity to enjoy nature or catch-up with a friend or family members. 

Elderly swimmer

2. Swimming in later life

Swimming is a fantastic sport for the elderly due to its low-impact nature. The buoyancy of water reduces stress on joints and minimises the risk of injury. Swimming engages multiple muscle groups, increases flexibility, and improves cardiovascular endurance. Additionally, water-based activities are particularly beneficial for individuals with arthritis or other joint-related conditions.
 

3. Tai Chi for older adults 

Tai Chi is a gentle martial art that originated in ancient China and is often referred to as "meditation in motion." Its slow, flowing movements promote balance, flexibility, and strength. Tai Chi is also known for deep breathing and mindfulness, making it an ideal sport to reduce stress, enhance mental clarity, and improve overall well-being.
 

4. Golf for the elderly

Golf is a popular sport among the elderly for several reasons. It not only requires a moderate level of physical activity, but it also encourages social interaction and the opportunity to be outdoors. The low-impact nature makes it accessible to individuals with varying fitness levels. There are also ways to make a round of golf easier for older people, such as using a motorised golf trolley to carry the heavy club bag between shots.

 

Men playing walking football 

5. Walking football 

Walking football is growing fast. Men and women across the country are finding a new lease of life by returning to the football pitch and engaging in this slower-paced version of the game.

As the name implies, no running or jogging is allowed in Walking Football, and tackles must be made without physical contact. This intentional modification significantly reduces the risk of injury, allowing individuals to continue playing well into their 70s and 80s while maintaining their passion for the sport.

 

Elderly couple doing yoga 

6. Yoga

Yoga offers numerous benefits for the elderly, including increased flexibility, improved balance, enhanced strength, and reduced stress. Its gentle stretches and poses can be modified to accommodate individual abilities, making it suitable for people with limited mobility. Regular yoga practice promotes joint health and mental well-being, making it an excellent choice to stay active and flexible.

7. Cycling

Cycling is a low-impact, cardiovascular activity that can be adapted to suit the needs of an individual. It improves cardiovascular fitness, strengthens leg muscles, and enhances overall endurance. Cycling can be enjoyed both outdoors and indoors on stationary bikes, providing flexibility in terms of accessibility and safety.

8. Bowling / Lawn Bowling 

Bowling/Lawn Bowling is a fun and social way to stay active. It involves moderate physical activity, including walking, swinging the ball, and engaging in friendly competition. Bowling can help improve balance, coordination, and muscle strength, particularly in the arms and legs. Many bowling alleys or lawn bowling clubs also offer lightweight balls and ramps to assist those with limited mobility.

 

Peace of mind in helping your elderly loved ones stay active

Some of the sports mentioned take place outside of the home. If this causes concern for or about an elderly loved one, for peace of mind it might be worth considering a personal alarm system.

Training in the gym

TakingCare offer the Out-and-About Personal Alarm Watch, which could be the ideal choice for an older adult living a full and active life. The watch not only monitors daily activity and tracks steps to help encourage meeting activity goals, but it also includes a GPS location tracker which is connected to TakingCare’s award-winning 24/7 emergency team.

The watch is very easy to wear and quite comfortable. The system was easy to set up and everyone seem very helpful.

TakingCare customer Ann
November 2022, Trustpilot

Personal alarm watch

The Out-and-About Personal Alarm Watch will also work in the home, providing you have good mobile coverage with any network.

Please see more advice on how to encourage your loved ones to stay active as they get older.

Monitored personal alarms

If you want more information on which personal alarm system might be right for your circumstances, get in touch by calling 0800 0121 321 or browse our personal alarm range.

Personal alarms

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Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

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Ways to support independent living

Independent living products brochure

Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

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