If watching the recent U.S. Open has inspired a comeback to the courts, understanding how to train in older age can make a huge difference, not only in playing competitively but also by helping to prevent injury and improve overall health. According to a recent Washington Post article, training with an equal balance of court hours and low-impact exercises like yoga, swimming and cycling can help protect joints, avoid injury and improve performance.
With more time to train, and recover properly after exertion, older athletes are increasingly staying in the game and they are competitive! In fact, 62 percent of the U.S. Tennis Association’s 310,000 league members are over the age of 45. Older athletes may find that soaking in a hot tub, visiting a physical sports therapist, stretching or taking acupuncture treatments can help relieve aches and pains while keeping fit and staying socially engaged.
Whether it’s tennis, pickleball, soccer or mountain biking, competitive sports have been found to help older adults maintain a better quality of life. A recent study out of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that competitive athletes on average measured a fitness level of someone 25 years younger than their chronological age. Senior athletes are also less likely to have a fall, and because sports require both physical and cognitive engagement, older adults who compete may have a mental edge over seniors who play sports only recreationally.
By stepping up your game and competing with others, older adults can stay motivated, active and increase not only longevity but also their quality of life. Experts advise competitive athletes focus on the game or race and stay in the moment rather than worry about the outcome. It’s never too late to become more active and get back in the game. As always, check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
Want to know how fit you really are? Test yourself online using this tool based on the Norwegian University study.
Learn more about how to stay or become a more active ager by following this link to the American Council on Exercise ACE Fitness website.