Does a retirement full of long days on the couch sound less than appealing to you? The boomer generation has more opportunities for an active– and athletic– “senior” lifestyle than ever. Look no further than the 2015 Senior Olympics–currently in Minneapolis, MN–for proof that technically falling in that senior age group (which the Senior Olympics defines as 50+) doesn’t mean you can’t be stronger and more fit than ever before, even if you were never especially involved in sports. Here are our tips for getting started at sports as a senior:
Be Careful, But Keep things in Perspective
Of course, there’s always a risk of injury with sports. But on the flip side, studies say sitting is killing you and making you sad. Take it slow, listen to your body, and have a good relationship with a medical practitioner who knows you history and can spot any problems–or compliment any achievements–quickly.
Don’t be Ashamed
If you’re worried about basic skills, such as balance and strength, consider edging into sports. Start with group exercise classes, like Tai Chi, aqua aerobics, or pilates. Not only will these help build strength and allow you to become better tuned into your body, they’ll build your confidence. With a little luck, they’ll also allow you to make friends to invite along on your athletic pursuits! If money is an issue, look into nonprofits like Silver Sneakers, which offer discounted gym memberships to seniors. Meanwhile, start watching sports you might be interested in.
Watch games of sports you’re interested in, or read about their history. It’s a great way to pass time on a treadmill or elliptical machine—or you can even download audio books or radio commentaries on important games. This will help you better absorb the fundamentals of the game and engage your mind.
Eat like an athlete! Protein is especially important for rebuilding muscles. Drink plenty of water to make up for what you’re sweating out.
Find A League
Search for senior leagues in your area online. For sports like tennis or golf, you can try calling local country clubs, YMCAs, or gyms to inquire about senior groups. You can also use the Senior Olympics “find a team” feature to locate teams in training in your area. Teams are divided by age level and by state. Can’t find a sport you’re looking for in your state? Try contacting your state league directly.