Thai Chi, swimming, walking – this is how you stay fit and vital in old age. Put your feet up and spend your retirement years on the couch? Not at all! German seniors are becoming more and more active – and that has many advantages. Here you can read about the positive effects sport has in old age, which types of sport are well suited and what you should consider before training for the first time.
If you rest, you rust – at least that applies to physical fitness in old age. Because in the golden years the body slowly but surely breaks down muscle mass, the joints become more immobile and stiff and simple everyday activities such as climbing stairs or carrying the shopping home become physical challenges.
Movement keeps body and mind fit
But that need not be! Those who do sport regularly can counteract this natural process of decay. The muscle breakdown is slowed down, the mobility increases again. In addition, regular exercise can prevent a variety of diseases. The more you move around in old age, the lower the risk of developing diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases and even dementia. The physical stimulation can form new nerve connections in the brain that slow down the mental breakdown process. If you keep fit, you will also stay fit in your head!
The risk of injuries in the event of a fall is also reduced in active seniors. Because many sports not only promote the muscles but also body awareness and balance. A little stumbling does not necessarily lead to a painful fall and broken bones and you are spared long hospital stays. One more reason to overcome your weaker self and start exercising!
Well suited: sport that is gentle on the joints
Have you decided to start exercising? Very good! But despite all the enthusiasm, you must not forget that the body is no longer as resilient as it was a few years ago. Sports with a high risk of injury, such as most team sports, are not recommended for seniors.
It is important to find an activity that suits your physical condition and your current fitness level. It differs from person to person. If you have been active all your life, you can still do more and more intensive sport in old age. If you want to get started at the senior age or have not been active for a long time, you should rather look for gentle sports to start with. The important thing is to find something that you enjoy. Then stay tuned.
The best sports for seniors
- Tai Chi
Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art and is also called shadow boxing. Nobody really has to fight here: In Tai Chi, different figures line up in one fluid movement. This strengthens the muscles, improves the sense of balance and makes the body more flexible. The Chinese martial art is now widespread in Germany and in every major city there are sports centers, fitness studios and sports clubs that offer the training.
Good news for all water lovers: swimming is a great sport for older athletes. In the water, the joints only have to support a fraction of the body’s weight. Injuries are therefore very rare. The breaststroke exercises the muscles in your arms, legs, stomach and back. In addition, the intensity of the training can easily be increased: if you feel fitter after a few weeks, you can swim more laps.
If you liked jogging outdoors when you were young, Nordic walking is a good way to stay active in old age. Walking uses the same muscle groups as jogging, but puts less stress on the joints. The arms are also moved by using the sticks. If you can’t get yourself up on your own, you can join a walking group or meet up with your partner or friends. It is important to listen to the body. If walking results in side stitching, choose a slower pace!
- Pilates and Yoga
Yoga and Pilates are also good for the body, regardless of age. The body is stretched, the muscles gently used and the mind comes to rest. Nevertheless, the exertion of the sports should not be underestimated! But seniors also get their money’s worth in beginner courses. Yoga and Pilates are now available in almost every fitness studio and smaller sports clubs also offer the movement exercise. Particularly recommended: yoga in combination with meditation. That is exhausting and relaxed – including a good feeling for the rest of the day!