Adaptive Sports for Seniors

Doctors and other healthcare professionals universally maintain that people in their Golden Years should be as physically active as possible. These experts state that seniors should engage in moderate exercise regularly throughout any given week.

In this regard, seniors can participate in fitness programs and recreational and sporting activities. Due to some limitations, people can develop as they age, and adaptive sports can be a solid choice for seniors. In this article, we provide an overview of how adaptive sports for seniors can be highly beneficial to individuals as they grow older.

What Are Adaptive Sports?

Adaptive sports are a great way for people with physical limitations associated with the normal aging process to get active and have fun. There are all sorts of adaptive sports out there, from skiing to basketball to dragon boat racing. Whatever your limitations associated with the normal aging process, there is very likely to be an adaptive sport that appeals to you.

Adaptive sports are perfect for people who want to get active but are uncomfortable participating in traditional sports. They are also a great way to meet new people and make friends. Socialization is important for older individuals as well. If you’re looking for a fun, challenging way to get in shape, you may want to try adaptive sports.

What Level of Exercise Should a Senior Ideally Engage In?

Health guidelines recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. Your chosen activities do not matter as long as they get you moving.

But what if an injury, illness, health condition, disability, or even normal aging makes being active hard for you? In those cases, adaptive sports could lend a much-needed hand.

A Closer Look at Adaptive Sports

As mentioned a moment ago, adaptive sports are competitive or recreational sports or activities for people with physical limitations. This can include men and women in their Golden Years. Adaptive Sports often run parallel to traditional endeavors but are modified to support people’s specific physical abilities.

“Eventually, almost everyone will experience some kind of disability that impedes regular exercise, whether it’s mild arthritis, requiring a knee or hip replacement, limited vision, or a more significant physical disability,” says Dr. Cheri Blauwet, an associate professor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School, and a former wheelchair racer who is a seven-time Paralympic medalist and two-time winner of both the Boston and New York City Marathons. “But today, because of advanced technology and supportive infrastructure, people can find almost any kind of sport or activity that takes into account their abilities and helps them stay active.”

Tennis is an example of a type of sport that is adapted for people with disabilities as well as for seniors that have limitations associated with the normal aging process or other health issues. Adaptive tennis is a sport that is designed for people with disabilities. The rules are the same as regular tennis, but the court is adapted to make it easier for players with disabilities to move around. There are different versions of adaptive tennis, depending on the disability of the player. For example, there is wheelchair tennis for players who are unable to walk and blind tennis for players who are blind or have low vision.

Adaptive tennis can be a great way for people with disabilities to stay active and healthy. It can also be a fun way to meet new people and make friends. If you are interested in learning more about adaptive tennis or want to try playing yourself, please get in touch with your local adaptive sports organization.

Importance of Staying Active

Not getting sufficient regular exercise increases the risk of a variety of health issues and conditions, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer

In addition, staying active and exercising can also improve your mood and emotional state. Exercise is effective at lowering the risk of depression and anxiety. “Adaptive sports are a way for us to continue to exercise regularly and support our health and well-being going forward,” explained Dr. Blauwet.

Research backs this up. According to one study, people participating in adaptive sports and activities report improved overall health, enhanced quality of life, and improved participants’ social lives.  

How to Learn More About Adaptive Sports Near You

You can find state and local adaptive sports programs and accessible activities through the websites of the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability and the Challenged Athletes Foundation. “These programs also can help you find mentors, coaches, and the support system that you need to be successful,” explained Dr. Blauwet. What kind of sport or activity you choose ultimately depends on your interests and level of function, but many options are available.

“Almost any kind of sport or activity can be adjusted to accommodate people with disabilities, so there is a good chance you can continue with a favorite endeavor,” said Dr. Blauwet.

See Your Doctor Before You Participate in an Adaptive Sport

It is important to see a doctor before you begin any fitness program. This includes one involving adaptive sports. A doctor can help you make sure that you are healthy enough for a fitness program, and they can also give you advice on the best program for you.

A doctor can help ensure you are healthy enough for a fitness program. They can also advise you on the best program for your fitness level and goals. If you have any health conditions, a doctor can help you find a fitness program that is safe for you.

It’s also important to listen to your doctor’s advice when starting a fitness program. They may tell you to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts over time. Or they may recommend that you work with a personal trainer to help you get started on the right foot.

So, if you’re thinking about getting fit, be sure to see your doctor first. They’ll help ensure you’re on the right track – both physically and mentally – for a successful fitness journey.