Exercise is a word that can fill some with fear, others with guilt and others with a sense of smug satisfaction – once they’ve completed their daily walk or workout. As we age, maintaining good fitness, muscle strength and working on our balance should be something we all embrace.
We are all aware of the many benefits of playing sports and keeping active, including reducing the risk of chronic diseases, improving mental health and wellbeing, and reducing stress levels.
Sport New Zealand conducted some research in 2015 in conjunction with Sport Bay of Plenty, looking at how the lives of retirees could be energised and enriched through participation in community sports and active recreation.
So what did they discover?
In a nutshell, enjoyment is the name of the game. As their discussion document states, “This isn’t just about the obvious health benefits. The fundamental driver for participation in community sport and active recreation is joie de vivre; the joy of living. In essence, community sport is a way for people to participate fully in the human experience. It is a physical and emotional state of being that extends far beyond ‘physical activity’, ‘exercise’, ‘sport’ or ‘play’. It is all of these things and more.
So what does that mean for retirees in reality?
Anna Tillman, Health Promoter at Age Concern Canterbury, says that whatever you do should be achievable but slightly challenging. “The more you do, the more you can do, and it will help you feel better about yourself,” she says. Success doesn’t happen overnight, but is the result of sustained effort over time. So it appears the main point is to keep going, stay safe while exercising and enjoy ourselves.
The more you do, the more you can do, and it will help you feel better about yourself,
she says. Success doesn’t happen overnight, but is the result of sustained effort over time. So it appears the main point is to keep going, stay safe while exercising and enjoy ourselves.
There are plenty of ways for retirees to stay active and involved in sports. Here are a few ideas:
Join a local sports club or team
Whether it’s walking, swimming, tennis or golf – there’s bound to be a local sports club not too far from where you live. See what takes your interest and make contact.
Get involved in coaching or volunteering
It’s incredible how active coaching or volunteering can be. It doesn’t have to mean signing up to coach the local football club’s ‘A’ team, but it could mean helping out with prize-giving or sorting out uniforms. Both will have some element of activity in them.
Stay active at home – perhaps doing yoga or working out with weight.
Also, you could build in some exercise around the home or when you’re carrying out weekly chores. Take the stairs instead of the lift, park your car on the other side of the supermarket car park or take an exercise class online.
Take part in local events, e.g. 5k runs or walks that you can participate in.
Keep an eye out for sporty events that pique your interest. Walking New Zealand has a list of upcoming walking events around New Zealand. Or, if you’re in Auckland or Wellington, the Walking Stars event happens in November this year to raise funds to support local people living with cancer.
A University of Sydney study in 2018 found that people who can walk at a fast pace enjoy a 53 percent reduction in all-cause mortality. The researchers state, “These analyses suggest that increasing walking pace may be a straightforward way for people to improve heart health and risk for premature mortality.”
As a first step to any exercise, it’s as simple as making the decision to get started. Then it’s about finding something that you enjoy doing. It’s essential to address any health concerns you may have before you start exercising by seeking advice from a doctor or practice nurse, and then enjoying it.
This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice.
Kathy Catton is a freelance writer and editor, based on the Banks Peninsula. She is an experienced feature writer, magazine editor and copywriter. Quick to grasp the crux of any story and tell it in plain English, Kathy enjoys bringing stories to readers that surprise and delight.
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