You’ve heard the term “sports for life,” right? You’d be forgiven for dismissing it as a platitude popularized by golf course developers and tennis racket manufacturers.
But hold on — there might be something to the idea. As it turns out, some of the most popular high school sports are low-impact enough — in other words, easy on the joints and muscles — to be played well into retirement age and beyond. These five popular games for kids just happen to be popular sports for older people, too.
1. Nordic Skiing
To be fair, you’re probably not going to enter an Olympic Nordic skiing event the day after your retirement party. You’re far more likely to embark on a worldwide skydiving trip. But like walking or cycling, Nordic skiing is a great form of exercise when practiced in moderation and at a suitably low intensity. Since it works out the upper and lower body, skiing is a great replacement for jogging and lifting weights — both of which can be risky for aging folks. Plus, it’s a great way to get outside and enjoy some fresh air during the colder months.
Tennis is often pegged as a problematic endeavor for people with aging joints, but it’s all about how you play. Doubles tennis allows for all the positive aspects of the game — thrilling rallies, exciting volleys, precise shot-making — without the more harmful elements, like turning on a dime or laying out for hard-to-reach shots.
Golf is an increasingly popular high school sport that’s easy to play as you age. Contrary to popular believe, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg — particularly if you stick to municipal courses and purchase used clubs. One other tip: Golf is a whole lot healthier when you walk the course. It sounds like a lot of work, but your cardiovascular system will certainly appreciate you for it.
Swimming and water aerobics are fun, heart-healthy activities for folks of any age. Thanks to water’s natural buoyancy, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood to your extremities during these activities, making it safer and less tiring to exercise for 30, 60, even 90 minutes in the pool. Even better, you get all the benefits of cardiovascular exercise. Sounds like a no-brainer.
You don’t have to have a 90 mph fastball or be able to run the bases in 10 seconds flat to excel at baseball or softball. All you need is a can-do attitude and some basic hand-eye coordination. Many amateur and rec leagues have modified rules, like six-pitch at-bats and automatic doubles for balls that get past the last outfielder, that lessen the competitive aspects of the game and allow participants to focus on staying healthy and having fun.
These five sports aren’t the only games you can play at nearly any age. What are your favorite “games for life”?