If you’re over 50 and you think playing sports is a young person’s game, think again! While you may not be interested in intense, high-contact activities like rugby or baseball, there are still plenty of fun sports for older people that will keep you fit and active and help you meet like-minded people.
Senior adults, in particular, can enjoy a heap of benefits from participating in sports and light exercise for both physical and emotional health. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that all adults over the age of 65 participate in at least 150 minutes a week of moderately intense physical activity to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Unfortunately, not enough senior adults hit the recommended guidelines due to chronic health conditions, sore joints, or simply a lack of motivation. This article shares seven different sports for older people and physical activity types ideal for adults over 60 and seniors with health conditions.
We chose these sports because they’re easy to start (requiring very little to no equipment), easy on the joints, and low-intensity. We’re positive you’ll find one that inspires you to get started!
It wouldn’t be an article about sports for older people if we didn’t mention golf! For millions worldwide, golf has become far more than just a sport. Not only is golf a great way to stay active, but it’s also a fantastic way to meet like-minded people and make life-long friendships.
Golf courses often have lounges where you can unwind, enjoy a beverage, and form relationships with the other golfers. So even if you don’t consider yourself outgoing or extroverted, you can be sure that you’ll feel much more comfortable talking to strangers and making new friends after a few rounds of golf.
People of all ages can enjoy pilates, but it’s especially beneficial for older adults as you control the intensity. It’s far less strenuous on the joints than other sports/exercises, but it still strengthens the body while improving core strength and general fitness levels.
It’s also incredibly accessible, as a yoga mat is all you need to get started. However, as you progress and build confidence and strength, you might incorporate special equipment like a pushing/pulling apparatus or a Wunda Chair. And because no weight-bearing movements are involved in pilates, there’s little risk of injury.
On first thought, Badminton might not be the first sport that comes to your mind when you think about sports for older people, but this is an excellent full-body workout that’s easy to learn and requires very little equipment!
People typically play badminton in pairs, or “doubles” as it’s called in the sport, but it’s also an ideal choice if you prefer some ‘me-time,’ while keeping active. There are plenty of people who go to badminton courts alone to play singles. Another great advantage of badminton for older adults is that it helps you improve your hand-eye coordination, which tends to decrease as we age.
While we’re talking about hand-eye coordination, tennis is another excellent sport.
The nature of it—running in different directions and swinging the racket with your arms—amounts to a great workout. But don’t worry, you won’t need an advanced fitness level to swing your first racquet. Many senior adults start playing tennis without experience—in tennis or sports!
A favorite among senior adults is croquet! Of course, croquet is a much lighter activity than tennis or badminton, but you can still count on enjoying all the benefits you would expect from other sports.
Croquet is a sport that involves hitting balls made of either plastic or wood through wickets in a grass playing court (like golf). It’s slow-paced, so it may not seem like much of a workout, and you’re unlikely to break a sweat, but this is another sport that requires lots of mental focus. Croquet enthusiasts love the game because of how stimulating it is and the puzzle-solving elements of it. It’s also a common sport among retirees, as it’s a great way to meet people and make new friends.
If you’re a football fan, you’re in luck! Walking soccer has grown immensely in popularity over recent years, and it’s easy to see why. It’s everything you love about soccer without running, making it ideal for adults over 65+ and struggling with weak joints.
Walking soccer is a low-impact sport and can help improve cardiovascular health, improve your mobility, and strengthen your core and balance. And, of course, there’s the teamwork spirit that brings this sport to the top of the list if you want a fun and social activity.
Tai Chi is a gentle and slow exercise that makes for a perfect sport for older people, particularly those with chronic illnesses. This mind-body practice, rooted in various Asian traditions like martial arts and traditional Chinese philosophy, is now popular among many senior adults.
Not only does Tai Chi help you improve your flexibility significantly, it also strengthens muscles and helps you build more endurance. It takes inspiration from slow martial arts movements and breathing exercises, and most of the activities are done on your feet—great for those who don't want to jump around, sit down and stand up, etc.
Tai Chi has also been clinically proven to work as a form of rehabilitation for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It has also been proven to reduce chronic pain for other conditions, such as fibromyalgia, and improve neurological functions for those who have Parkinson’s disease.
You’ve probably heard about the dance-exercise craze Zumba, but have you heard about the new, exciting variation designed for senior adults? Enter Zumba Gold!
Although this is an exercise rather than a sport, it’s such an effective and ideal workout for older adults that we had to include it on this list. Zumba Gold is the lower-intensity version of regular Zumba, with slower, modifiable moves.
It can also done on both feet or seated, so you won’t have to worry about jumping up and down or engaging in vigorous movement that could upset your joints.
We recently wrote an article dedicated entirely to Zumba Gold. Check it out here! Zumba Gold For Seniors: The New Exercise Craze For Adults 50+
Staying active while having fun isn’t reserved for the younger generations! Everybody deserves to feel and look their best, no matter what age, and staying active is the most beneficial way to get there.
So take your pick from the activities in this article, and give it a go!
We’re confident you’ll find something you love.
Eudaimonia Health offers group classes to residential living facilities, assisted-living centers, and more. All of our instructors are trained and follow pre- and post-workout safety checks. We recommend our seated exercise classes which are fun and social, as well as good for health.
We offer classes all over the United States, so contact us today to chat about your facility’s exercise needs.