When you picture your retirement, it probably looks like stress-free relaxation. One of the best parts of retirement is not having to work. However, it does not mean you should stop working your body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 60% of senior citizens ages 65-74 are not physically active.
If you take up a sport in retirement, you will benefit not only your health but also your joints, bones and social life. Here are the top five reasons to take up a sport in retirement.
1. Improve cognitive function
Cognitive function declines as you age. However, physical exercise can reduce cognitive decline when you participate in sports in your golden years. Studies have shown that any physical activity can improve mental speed, attention, and working memory.
When you play a sport, you are not only exercising your muscles and joints but also your mind. For example, racquetball is a sport where you focus on serving a ball to hit a wall. Racquetball improves cognitive function by enhancing hand-eye coordination, which helps improve balance. When your balance improves, it will help prevent falls, which are common for senior citizens.
When you are active in sports, many changes happen in your brain. For example, endorphins are released, which are strong chemicals that energizes you and makes you feel more happy and content. Sports really can change your mindset in a positive way.
2. Sustain a healthy weight
Obesity is a common problem for senior citizens. Obesity contributes to diabetes, arthritis, and respiratory disease. Losing weight is much harder for seniors, so reversing obesity can be challenging. That’s where sports come in.
When you play a sport a few times a week, you help maintain a healthy weight. Sports with high endurance levels, such as swimming or jogging, are ideal sports to help manage weight.
Cardiovascular sports work your entire body, which is what you want. Low-impact sports are a good choice for seniors and typically do not require lots of equipment. For example, many seniors enjoy swimming because you only need a swimsuit, goggles, and access to a pool.
3. Increase bone density
When you age, it’s common to lose muscle mass and bone mineral density over time. When you reach age 50, it happens more quickly. Osteoporosis is a common health condition among seniors. Osteoporosis causes your bones to become fragile and weak, which could lead to a fracture. Sometimes seniors don’t know they have osteoporosis until they experience a break.
Sports are a way to help strengthen your bone density. Many seniors enjoy tennis as it is fun to play, and it targets the cardiovascular system. Tennis is not only a great workout, but it improves muscle mass and bone density. Tennis is a weight-bearing sport that strengthens your bones, joints, and muscles.
4. Improve heart health
Sports can also strengthen your heart. A common disease found among senior citizens is cardiovascular disease. When you play an aerobic sport, your chances of cardiovascular disease can potentially decrease.
Cardio exercise helps your heart push out more blood, which allows your heart rate to slow and maintain healthy blood pressure.
5. Have an active social life
According to Walker Methodist, when seniors connect with friends, their brain health can increase while the risk of dementia decreases. When you surround yourself with people your age and play a sport together, you are more likely to play with that group regularly.
One study found that cognitive function declines 70% more slowly when individuals have frequent social interactions than with little social interaction. Sports can help create a more positive outlook on life and create a healthy mind and body.
When you play a sport in retirement, you are benefiting your body and your mind. There are many senior citizen recreational centers – visit one today and see if there are any sports you would be interested in and watch it positively change your life and body.