The World Health Organisation recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or at least 75 minutes a week of high-intensity aerobic exercise, or a combination of moderate- and high-intensity activity. Physical activity affects every aspect of our lives! Therefore, it is not worth neglecting, even in old age! Activity for the elderly strengthens the muscular system, improves body flexibility, helps maintain balance, protects the joints, especially the spine and hips, increases respiratory fitness, and improves aerobic capacity. We must not forget about the beneficial influence of physical activity on the mind! That is why today we have prepared for you a full compendium on sports for older people and examples of the most effective exercises for seniors! Let’s get started!
Medical and social benefits of physical activity
We often underestimate the importance of physical activity for older adults and the benefits it brings. Movement is the key to a long and healthy life. Regular, sustainable physical activity enables us to be physically and mentally fit for a longer time. It is, therefore, worth treating the movement as a sensational way of so-called successful ageing. Each type of physical activity will produce slightly different effects. We can divide them into effects related to physical and mental fitness. What are the social benefits of physical activity for older people? And how do sports for older people affect their physical condition?
Psychological and social benefits of physical activity:
- improving quality of life,
- increased independence and autonomy in life,
- reduced risk of depression and apathy,
- social activation of older people,
- improved wellbeing,
- greater sense of belonging to society,
- less loneliness and transience,
- tighter interpersonal relationships.
Medical benefits of physical activity:
- increase range of motion in joints,
- increase in muscle strength and endurance,
- improved motor coordination,
- improved balance,
- increased flexibility and elasticity of the body,
- improving the general physical fitness of the body and mind,
- increased efficiency of the organism,
- better oxygenation of the body,
- positive effect on the cardiovascular system,
- positive effect on the respiratory system,
- reduced risk of diseases such as myocardial infarction, osteoporosis and diabetes.
Sports for older people – what should they involve?
The healthiest form of physical activity for older adults and seniors is one that works across as many systems of the body as possible. It is essential to choose the appropriate form of exercise to suit the health and fitness of the older person. As with any physical activity, you should first start with gentle, short-duration forms of exercises for seniors to get the body used to exercise, and then gradually increase the intensity as the body adapts. Sports for older people should include elements of strength training to strengthen muscles, aerobic exercise to increase aerobic capacity, stretching to increase body flexibility, and balance activities to improve body balance.
What must seniors remember when exercising?
Exercise, at any age, can cause injuries, but these are especially serious among seniors. Therefore, before starting any type of physical activity, be sure to warm up. The worst thing we can do, and harm our health at the same time, is to start exercising without warming up and stretching the body. The warm-up should last about 5 to 7 minutes and include the main muscle groups and breathing exercises. So, do leg, arm and hip rotations and twists and bends. And after physical activity for older adults, you cannot forget about the cool down. At the end of the exercises, make sure to stretch your body properly. Concentrate on the parts that have worked the most during gymnastics.
Best sports for older adults
Despite appearances, there are many types of suitable sports for older people, but the choice should be based primarily on the elderly person’s state of health, as well as their preferences. For newcomers to sports for older people, physical activities should be recommended that do not overload the body too much. What are the best sports for older adults who are just beginning their adventure with exercise? A good choice for such people would be gentle yoga, walking, Nordic walking, Tai Chi, or swimming. All of these activities do not require a high level of fitness, do not put too much strain on the joints, and their pace can be adjusted to one’s abilities. What do we recommend as sports for active seniors? The most beneficial sports for active seniors include fitness, Pilates, cycling, tennis, badminton and team sports. Because age is just a number! And that hardly means we have to give up leisure activities.