Our population is ageing – the number of people aged 60 or over is expected to pass the 20 million mark by 2030, according to the Office for National Statistics.
While 71% of 55-59-year-olds say they play sport, only 56% of 60-65-year-olds and 25% of those over 75 do so. These figures are certainly encouraging, but there is still progress to be made, especially as all the research shows the beneficial effect of sport on memory, health and the quality of mental life.
Studies also show that men are more assiduous than women and that people on low incomes do less sport: for example, in the 60-64 age group, 36% of people on low incomes do not practise any sport, compared with only 17% of wealthier people.
Before taking up any sport or physical activity, it is important for seniors to consult their doctor for a health check-up. Your doctor will be able to give you many answers on how you should resume sport after a short or long period of inactivity and the many risks that exist if you do not follow his instructions properly.
As we age and get older, injuries such as falls, sprains, tendonitis and joint pain occur more easily. If you are still hesitating, think about asking a cardiologist to do a physical test or an electrocardiogram to assess your heart rate.
The benefits of sport for seniors
Sport prevents cardiovascular risks, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis and certain cancers. It may surprise you, but physical activity can prevent many diseases. For colon cancer, the risk is reduced by 40 to 50%, for breast cancer, the risk is reduced by 30 to 40%. Two hours of jogging per week can increase life expectancy by six years. Beyond the prevention of certain diseases, sport contributes greatly to well-being: it reduces stress, improves your perception of yourself and your body, promotes your physical well-being, etc. In addition, sport will regulate your sleep and reduce insomnia
You should take 10,000 steps a day to stay fit. Apart from good shoes, walking requires little equipment, it can be done in town or in the countryside and it can take different forms: Nordic walking, hiking or even a treadmill in the gym
Walking has many advantages: it is a complete sport that involves the whole body, prevents osteoporosis and improves the cardiorespiratory system.
Walking is a basic sport activity that can be practised wherever you are. Walking exercises the whole body without straining it. A highly beneficial health sport: sport walking helps to prevent and slow down osteoporosis. Its more “sporty” version, senior walking, has positive effects on the cardio-respiratory system by working your breath, especially above an altitude of 1,500 m.
What better way to work on your endurance and motor skills while building muscle gently than swimming? Swimming stimulates blood circulation, improves breathing and motor skills and builds muscle gently. Water relieves the weight of the body: swimming is therefore particularly suitable for overweight people. With the effect of the water, you will be able to support your body more easily and it will therefore be less painful if you suffer from arthritis for example. 1 hour of swimming is equivalent to burning about 600 calories.
Good for endurance, blood circulation, balance, coordination and your heart… Cycling is an ideal sport after 60 years of age and is high on the list of the best physical activities for older people.
So, for short trips and errands, don’t hesitate to take your bike instead of the car, it’s good for your body and also for the planet!
If you want to build up your muscles and strengthen your body, you should choose activities that require brief, high-intensity efforts. These activities improve balance, posture, muscle strength and strengthen bones. These sports are often very comprehensive and also work on flexibility and joints. At home, gardening is a good way to build muscle!
Tennis is very suitable for people over 60: in addition to building up your stamina, playing tennis will strengthen your muscles and joints.
Tennis requires a good physical condition and technical skills, so it will be more difficult to start this sport after 60. But if you’ve played this sport before, or if you’re not afraid of a challenge… then go for it!
5. Water aerobics
This sport allows you to get rid of the stress of the day. The movements performed in water are less painful and therefore accessible to older people. Water aerobics works on muscle tone and breathing. Another beneficial effect is that it improves blood circulation and strengthens the cardiovascular rhythm, thus preventing many circulatory diseases.
Often practised to music and in a group, this sport will give you a boost and allow you to meet new people.
Note that there are many different types of classes, many of which are specially designed for seniors.
Flexibility training involves stretching or bending and reaching. Flexibility activities are generally gentler activities, so perhaps they are best suited to you if you are just starting out in physical activity?
6. Tai Chi Chuan
In China, its practice is considered the secret of longevity. Large, slow, controlled movements, which are beneficial to both body and mind.
By working on balance, the risk of falling is also reduced. And Tai Chi Chuan is also beneficial for many ailments experienced by people over 60: high blood pressure, insomnia, muscle tension, memory problems, etc.
This sport is ideal because it adapts to your desires and needs: gentle yoga, dynamic yoga, back yoga… Flexibility, relaxation, yoga also tones the body and can increase immune resistance. In addition to flexibility, it improves body tone, balance, and increases immune resistance. If practised regularly, it has an effect on sleep and mental well-being.
If you want to try a new sport after 60, you can try a yoga class without hesitation.
Accessible to all since you can go at your own pace, it is both a passion and an activity that requires technique. You should know that playing golf will reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Essentiel autonomie, « 9 activités physiques à essayer après 60 ans », Essentiel autonomie, 28 Mars 2022. https://www.essentiel-autonomie.com/trouver-temps-moi/9-activites-physiques-essayer-apres-60-ans
Featness, « Programme d’entrainement seniors: quels sports pour les plus de 60 ans », Featness, 04 Novembre 2021. https://featness.app/blog/15/programme-d-entrainement-seniors-:-quels-sports-pour-les-plus-de-60-ans
Pour bien vieillir, « 1 senior sur 2 pratique un sport », Pour bien vieillir. https://www.pourbienvieillir.fr/1-senior-sur-2-pratique-un-sport
Senior Compagnie, « Sport et seniors : nos 10 pratiques pour rester en bonne santé », Senior Compagnie, 10 Février 2021. https://senior-compagnie.fr/quelle-pratique-sportive-pour-un-senior/
SeniorAdom, « Seniors: quel sport choisir pour rester en bonne santé ? », SeniorAdom, 23 Août 2018. https://www.senioradom.com/blog/quel-sport-pour-les-seniors/