By Doug Nelson
Community Center Manager
What is a “lifetime sport” anyway? Well, simply put, it is an activity or sport that you can do for your entire life. Finding a sport you enjoy playing is the key to longevity. You are much more likely to invest time and money into a pastime if you are having a blast while doing it. As we progress into our sixties and beyond, staying healthy and fit becomes more important and more challenging. While improved health and fitness – not to mention looking and feeling great – are great incentives for starting an exercise program, they are usually weak motivators over the long haul. If you choose sporting activities where the goals include having fun, learning a new skill, improving performance, and meeting new people, the byproducts of health and fitness are sure to come!
What are some factors to consider when choosing a lifetime sport? While there is no such thing as no-risk, consider sports that have a low risk of injury. If you are starting a sport later in life, you may want to avoid contact or high-impact sports that are too risky. Besides the obvious reasons; walking, yoga, and water exercise make great lifetime sports because they are simple to pick up and can be done on your own schedule. While you will need a pool or local fitness class, water exercise is easy on the joints yet still fun and invigorating. Yoga is great for joint flexibility and stability, with a wide range of class options available.
If competition is more your thing, many sports offer “Masters” or “Seniors” divisions in which you are competing with people in your age group. Examples of Masters Sports include tennis, swimming, track & field, rowing, cycling, and skiing. No matter which sport you choose, consider the following strategies to increase your enjoyment. First, work with a coach or find a lesson program to cover the basic skills. Second, find a team or pair up with a partner to share in the experience. And lastly, take it slow and steady. Trying to heap too many expectations on yourself or the sport might lead to disappointment. Focus on small successes at first, and then build from there.
It’s never too late to start! Here is a more complete list of lifetime-friendly sports: walking, hiking, swimming, water aerobics, golf, yoga, Pilates, dance, tennis and other racquet sports, bicycling, bowling, canoeing or other paddle sports, martial arts especially tai chi, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, sailing.