I remember my last competitive soccer game like it was yesterday. I was already playing in an “old man’s” league at the age of 38 when my ACL tore. I was devastated, but realized it was time to hang up the soccer cleats.
Many people over 50 (even 40) hold on to the distorted belief that they’re too old to indulge in sports of any type. Is there a physiological reason or is it just the myriad of challenges, such as an injury, or time required for training, motivation, or busy work demands?
As we age, remaining active physically and mentally helps us to stay healthy and independent. Participation in sports, whether it be competitive or recreational is a great way to be active. Sports enable people to develop social, competitive and leadership skills. It is also a great way to avoid paying a high price for inactivity which can lead to increased rates of falls, heart disease, obesity, and premature death.
At an older age, you may not be able to participate in aggressive or contact team sports as these pose a higher risk for injuries, but you can still participate by toning down the intensity.
For example, softball, volleyball, paddling, running, golfing, tennis, cycling, hiking and swimming all promote team and individual participation.
While we all have different abilities and fitness levels, the thrill and camaraderie that comes from playing sports leaves more than a smile on the face. In my practice as a senior fitness and sports performance conditioning specialist I have several older adult clients who actually prefer participating in sports as a way to keep fit.
It’s not all about competing (though wins can boost your self-esteem), how you look nor being the best; it’s about how you feel by reconnecting with your body and rediscovering the fun in sports. It is a proven fact that movement makes us happier, more resistant to stress and more self-confident. So why not give sports a try?
Remember if you have health conditions or are unsure about the types and amounts of physical activity most appropriate for you, get clearance from the doctor before you begin.
In my next blog I’ll discuss some of the important ways to get your body ready for team or individual sports participation.