Taking part in sport and fitness activities on a weekly basis is important for everybody, no matter how old or young you are. Of course, it becomes increasingly important to remain active in our older years in order to remain fit and healthy.
The NHS report that a lot of adults over the age of 65 spend around 10 hours a day either sitting or laying down, and this lack of activity is causing serious health problems. This lack of mobility can cause you suffer from aches and pains when doing simple things such as walking to the shops as a lack of energy takes over. People who remain active have a lower risk of heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes and dementia.
Today’s article will firstly look at the sport and fitness guidelines suggested by health experts, before going on to list our top 7 sport and fitness activities for older people. If you’re interested in picking up a new hobby, please take a look at our in-depth guide.
NHS Guidelines to Sport and Fitness
According to the NHS, adults aged over 65 who are generally fit, with no health conditions, should try and do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week and strength exercises on two or more days a week which work all of the major muscles in your body.
Examples of moderate aerobic activity include:
Alternatively, you should aim for 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity (singles tennis or running) and strength exercises on two or more days a week that work the major muscles in your body.
A third option is to take part in a mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity each week. As an example:
Two 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of brisk walking equates to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, and strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles.”
The same guidelines are given to those aged between 19 and 64. Let’s look at 7 great examples of sport and fitness activities for older people:
Swimming gives the body a complete workout, both muscular and cardiovascular, in what can be considered as a fun sport and fitness activity.
You burn more calories and build up more muscle mass during a swimming session because of the resistance that the water gives – it is around 800 times denser than air. As your muscles are worked so much harder in the pool, your heart and lungs must work harder to pump oxygen around the body and therefore improves your cardiovascular health.
Swimming is an ideal activity if you suffer from arthritis as the water can take up to 90% of the body’s weight. This means that you will have less painful movements in affected joints as well as toning up the supporting muscles.
As going for a swim can be quite enjoyable, it will also improve your general mood. It can also improve your social life as you become a regular at the leisure centre, meeting new people who enjoy swimming as much as you do.
There are other sport and fitness activities that take place in swimming pools as well, such as water polo and aqua aerobics.
According to British Cycling, cycling’s governing body, more than two million people across the country now cycle at least three times a week. Going for a bike ride is a great way of keeping in shape, reducing the risk of chronic illnesses in the process, as well as being a great form of transport to the shops or to work.
Riding a bike burns more calories than going for a jog and also has less impact on your joints, especially the knees, as you are putting less pressure on them. Cycling works the whole body and can help you lose weight in the process, whilst keeping all your joints moving in a fun, outdoor workout.
As we know from the guidelines mentioned above, cycling for at least 150 minutes every week will improve your overall cardiovascular fitness. There are a number of cycling clubs across the country which you can join – which can combat loneliness as you make more friends.
Alongside the health benefits, cycling will also help to save you money. You can ride your bike as form of transport, rather than using the petrol in your car or paying for a bus or taxi. One less car on the road also helps the environment.
Depending on your physical condition you may want to start playing football again. Walking football has really taken off since its creation in 2011 and may be more appealing to the older generation.
The game is specifically for those over the age of 50, who may have believed that their footballing days were over. The rules are similar to that of a five-a-side game except of course for the most important rule: NO RUNNING. If any player is caught running, then the other team receives a free-kick.
Walking football gives you the chance to play the beautiful game with a twist and still helps to keep your legs moving in a good cardiovascular workout – without the fear of over doing it and putting your health at risk.
Squash is an indoor racket sport which gives the whole body a great workout. Played in a four-walled court with a small, hollow rubber ball and the aim is to hit the ball against the walls in a way in-which the opposition cannot return the ball.
You can burn an average of 500 calories within half an hour of playing. You will be running and jumping for the ball, meaning that all your joints will be given a good workout. Taking part in a racket sport such as squash can reduce your risk of conditions such as type 2 diabetes.
As it is a two or four-player game, squash is also a sociable game that you can play with friends or encounter new people who have a common interest.
It may come as a surprise to some of you, but golf is actually a good sport for the body. A game of golf gets you out in the fresh air and provides you with a great brain workout.
Golf takes place on a huge course meaning that you will be doing plenty of walking on your trip to the club. Most courses are not flat either, so you will be doing uphill walks along your journey to the next hole. Going for a walk is great for the body, but with a game of golf you are doing so much more than that.
Your muscles also receive a workout and you can improve your flexibility, balance and core strength during a game. The more swings you take with a golf club the more strength you are building up within your arms and core as your twist your body. The movement as you take a shot is of a huge benefit to your body as you get older. Of course, carrying your golf clubs also gives your muscles a workout along the way.
Golf also gives the brain a workout as concentration is key to hitting the right shot at the right time. Your brain does plenty of thinking during a game of golf as you memorise each hole and the correct club to use. This is perfect in the battle against possible dementia.
Walking is so easy to add to your everyday schedule and has so many health benefits that you would be crazy not to take part. Going on a walk can get the blood pumping around your body without putting too much unnecessary strain on your cardiovascular system, leading to a decrease in the risk of a stroke.
Not only that, but it also helps to keep your high blood pressure in check and can also boost your heart’s overall performance. As with all forms of exercise, walking will also help you to burn those calories and lose weight.
Walking has also been proven to help with your mood and mental health. There is nothing better than going for a nice walk in the countryside to help clear your mind and brighten your mood. Going for a walk with friends also helps boost your social life, and there are plenty of walking groups across the country too.
If you’re looking for something a little more intense than regular walking, Nordic Walking may be for you. This activity provides you with a full body workout, as you walk through the city or countryside with specially-designed walking poles.
The poles are used are used in a way that harnesses the power of the upper body to propel you forward as you walk. Nordic Walking can help you burn up to 46% more calories than regular walking and also helps to improve your posture and gait.
Again, like regular walking, there are groups around the country that have instructors on-hand to help you get to grips with this form of walking.
Remember to have a medical with your doctor before starting a new sport and fitness hobby, and take it slow and steady when you begin. It’s better to gradually improve your ability and fitness, rather than going in too hard and injuring yourself.
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