Playing a sport after 50? Any doctor will tell you this is a great idea as long as you remain cautious and focus on risk-free activities because the bodies of seniors no longer respond as well to the demands of physical exertion. To help you choose, here is a list of the top 10 sports for seniors!
The benefits of sport for seniors
From the age of 50, muscle mass and strength decrease by 40 to 50% depending on the person.
With age, shortness of breath is also greater, weight gain is not uncommon, and the balance is increasingly fragile. The ability of seniors to maintain an independent life is reduced, the risk of falls more frequent. Staying inactive then represents danger from a certain age. To fight against these harmful effects, sport, practiced gently, is very good therapy.
Thus, sports activity makes it possible to:
- Decrease the risk of falls
- Decrease the risk of obesity
- Reduce stress and prevent heart disease
- Contribute to lowering cholesterol
- Fight against osteoporosis
- Improve immune defenses
- Maintain muscles
- Create social bonds, reduce the risk of depression
1. Walking and hiking
The best sport for seniors is undoubtedly walking, as well as all its derivatives. Basic activity practicable everywhere, walking adapts to most situations. It engages the whole body without brutality and prevents/slows down osteoporosis. Its more "sporty" version, senior hiking, has positive effects on the cardio-respiratory system, especially above 1,500 meters above sea level. Unless you suffer from severe heart or respiratory deficiency, or advanced osteoarthritis of the lower joints (hips, knees), it is perfect for all seniors.
2. Running, recommended for seniors
You might think that running is too intense activity after 60 years. A sports physiotherapist reports that the practice of running for a senior does not pose a problem except in special cases, against indication to the practice and according to the load of training in running. However, he emphasizes beginners in the race, for whom a personalized follow-up seems essential to him to monitor the intensity of the practice and reduce the risk of injury. So, dear senior, with appropriate supervision and rigorous medical monitoring, you can put on your sneakers and run.
In the list of the best sports for seniors, cycling takes pride in place: good for blood circulation, for breathing, for muscle coordination, for balance, and of course for the heart. In addition, on a bicycle, you are less sensitive to your body weight, which can be a clear advantage. Be careful, however, in cases of osteoarthritis of the knee.
Yoga is an increasingly popular practice of all ages. There are thus a multitude of types of yogas for various ages and various levels. By finding the right yoga, you will gain balance, strength, and mood will also be boosted by the different exercises and contact with the teacher and other followers. Yoga also helps you get better sleep and feel more rested and peaceful. However, all of these benefits will not appear immediately but with regular training.
5. Soft gym
Suitable for seniors, the gentle gym allows you to maintain your muscles, balance, concentration, and breathing. Through small daily exercises, you can limit the risk of falling and therefore slow the loss of autonomy. You can do these exercises at home, in your garden, or in a park to enjoy the fresh air. For more motivation, do these exercises in groups with a club or association, or even in a gym.
Water sports are very beneficial for working all of your body muscles, endurance, and motor skills. You will feel lighter in the water, and getting around will be easier. For example, by doing aquagym, initially created for the rehabilitation of top athletes, you will work on your coordination while relieving joint pain. Opt for group lessons for a festive moment shared with other enthusiasts.
Swimming benefits muscles (arms, legs, back) as well as breathing capacities and motor coordination. By relieving the weight of the body, it is ideal for people who suffer from osteoarthritis and for practicing sport after 60 years in any case. There is only one contraindication: in the case of angina pectoris, avoid abruptly diving into too cold water.
8. Tai Chi Chuan
This traditional Chinese practice has, over time, combined with modern therapeutic exercises.
Tai chi allows seniors with health problems (arthritis, cardiovascular problems) to maintain beneficial physical activity. It helps strengthen muscle tone, improve balance and flexibility through slow, fluid movements.
However, it is essential that teachers have the skills to work with older people. In addition to its positive effects on the heart and muscles, martial art is recommended for preventing falls by improving stability and coordination of movements.
Tennis uses the whole body and forces you to move around in space. It is a complete sport that makes it possible to tone the muscles and maintain good flexibility at the level of the joints. It improves coordination, proprioception, and motor reflexes. It is an excellent endurance sport for reducing arterial hypertension and maintaining the heart.
10. Dances for the seniors
Dancing promotes blood circulation and helps to work on motor coordination and the sense of balance; it promotes meetings and enriches social life. However, people who dance should be careful not to overdo it and stick to their rhythm. Beware of dehydration! Buying shoes adapted to the shape of your feet is essential to avoid blisters, corns, and sprains.
A few tips for a good practice
Before jumping into one of the best sports for seniors, it's essential to keep in mind that playing sports at 50 is not the same as playing sports at 20 or 30. Thus, it is necessary:
• carry out a medical check-up;
• to favor a gentle practice;
• to make small daily and regular efforts;
• adapt your diet. Your doctor can provide you with valuable advice in senior sport.