Inspired by the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games we’re taking a look at some accessible sports suitable for all abilities
With summer in full swing and excitement building for the upcoming Commonwealth Games (opening on 28 July), there’s no better time to have a go at a new low impact sports for over 50s.
With demand for accessible sport ever-increasing, it’s now easier than ever to get involved with an activity that’s perfectly suited to your ability level. So why not make the most of the long summer evenings by joining a fun, competitive and social sports club? To find out how to join a club in your local area, visit Scope or Age UK for more information. And to learn about some of the all-ability activities you could be getting involved in, read on for our picks.
Lace up your boots for walking football
If you were a passionate football player in your youth but haven't been able to play for a while, you might be interested in taking up walking football. This gentler version of the great game has truly taken off since its first creation in 2011 and there are now clubs all over the country welcoming players over the age of 50. The rules are identical to that of a typical five-a-side game, with the exception of one crucial rule: no running, and if the referee spots a player breaking this rule, the other side earns a free kick. This low-impact activity has been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, reduce blood pressure, and enhance mobility. Plus, the teamwork aspect makes walking football a fun social activity too.
Relax your body and mind with Tai Chi
Tai Chi is a low-impact exercise with gentle motions performed in a standing position. It’s simple to get started because no equipment is required. When practising Tai Chi, your muscles are relaxed rather than tight, your joints are not fully extended or bent, and your connective tissues are not stretched. This means you're increasing your flexibility and muscular strength without overworking your body. Tai Chi can also help to improve your balance, lowering your chances of falling in everyday life. If you’re interested in taking up Tai Chi, why not join a beginner’s course in the beautiful surroundings of Kew Gardens at a special rate for Boundless members, click here for more information.
Give your joints a break while swimming
Swimming is another excellent, low–to-no–impact exercise. It improves both muscle and cardiovascular health while also serving as a fun social activity. Swimming burns a lot of calories and helps you to improve muscle growth thanks to the resistance provided by water. Because your muscles must work considerably harder moving in the water, your heart and lungs must each work much more to pump oxygen throughout your body too, improving your health as a whole. Hopping in the pool is a great physical activity for people suffering from arthritis because of the fact that water reduces your body weight by 90%, significantly reducing stress on your joints.
Get in a round of golf
Golf is also an excellent exercise for your joints because the movements involved in teeing up a ball and swinging a club produce a wide range of motion that you might not perform elsewhere. Golf increases blood circulation, which stimulates your heart to operate more effectively building its muscles. While golf is by no means a high-energy activity, all of the hitting, putting, and walking around the course adds up to an impressive number of burned calories. Furthermore, the social component and attention required for the game improves your focus and general mental well-being.
Get your heart pumping with Nordic Walking
If you’re seeking something a little more intensive than your typical afternoon stroll, Nordic Walking could be the activity for you. This sociable sport uses specifically designed walking poles to give you a full-body workout. While you exercise your legs with a brisk stride, the poles will help you to utilise your upper body strength to drive yourself ahead as you walk. On average, Nordic Walking burns around 46% more calories than conventional walking, as well as helping to improve your posture and stride.
Cycle your way to a healthy heart
More than two million people in the UK now get pedalling at least three times a week, according to British Cycling. Going on a bike ride is a terrific way to stay in shape while lowering your risk of chronic illnesses, and it's a great way to get around town or to work. Riding a bike burns more calories than jogging and has fewer negative effects on your joints, particularly your knees. Cycling exercises the entire body and can help you lose weight while keeping all of your joints functioning normally in an enjoyable outdoor setting (which is fantastic for your mental health too!).
Find some friendly competition at lawn bowls
Due to the weight of the bowls and the amount of walking required, lawn bowls does a surprisingly good job of improving balance and coordination while providing full-body exercise. It's a fantastically social activity that promotes improved mental health, friendly competition as well as hand-eye coordination. And if bending and lifting causes too much pressure on your back or knees, there are several devices available to help you pick up your bowls ensuring the activity is accessible to all.
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