5 Senior Friendly Sports to Try in Retirement

Seniors enhance their overall health and well-being by consistently eating a healthy diet and through regular exercise. Unfortunately, not all adults, including older ones, always engage in proper physical activity. Research has revealed that almost 10 percent of deaths of people between the ages of 40 and 69 have a connection to physical inactivity. In other words, researchers have concluded that many of these deaths were preventable, with those involved exercising regularly.

In addition to these revelations, researchers have also concluded that 31 percent of people 65 years of age or older have not exercised in the past 30 days. These individuals have a variety of reasons for not exercising. Included on the list of excuses for not being physically active is that many of these people don’t like the fitness options they feel are available to them.

The reality is that several senior friendly sports that provide older individuals with the exercise they need are low-impact and enjoyable. In this article, we discuss five of these senior friendly sports:

  • Swimming
  • Pickleball
  • Wii bowling
  • Nordic walking
  • Tai chi


Swimming may be great for your bones. Indeed, multiple studies over the past 30 years have underscored that swimming has various significant health benefits. Even if you don’t love water, there are plenty of reasons to love swimming as an active senior.

Swimming is a low-impact sport that can be gentle on joints, while other studies have suggested that swimming may also help increase bone density and, in turn, help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Even better, swimming may help limit the worsening of age-related pain.

Stanford University published what is known as a longitudinal study about 15 years ago. The study concluded that seniors who participated in regular aerobic exercise did not experience a progressive increase in musculoskeletal pain that other, less-active seniors did.


Pickleball is a great opportunity for socializing. With that said, many physicians and fitness experts have considered pickleball the best-kept secret for a senior who wants to stay fit and healthy.

If you are like many seniors, you may not have heard of pickleball. You most definitely are not alone in this regard.

Pickleball can best be described as a combination of badminton and table tennis. It can make for a rousing competition between players. Pickleball is also a low-impact workout for many older men and women.

In pickleball, players stand on either side of a net and use paddles to launch the ball diagonally over the net to their teammate. The game typically ends at 11 points.

A growing number of assisted living communities are including pickleball on their resident schedules. Across the United States, pickleball is proving to be one of the most enjoyed activities among residents of assisted living communities.

Wii Bowling

Fitness experts believe that Wii bowling can help improve an older individual’s balance. Wii is the digital incarnation of traditional bowling. Wii bowling works in the same manner as the traditional form. A key difference is that Wii bowling is a low-impact alternative.

The Wii gaming system has been discontinued by Nintendo. Nonetheless, the bowling game remains popular. For example, over the past 13 years, the National Senior League has virtually convened hundreds of seniors annually for a seven-week tournament. People interested in playing Wii bowling can access devices capable of accommodating the digital sport.

Much more than a mere video game, Wii Bowling is an exercise that can have many of the benefits of analog or real-world athletics. One research study found that playing Wii Bowling may help improve balance in senior individuals. After playing Wii Bowling seated for 30 minutes twice a week over the course of eight weeks, some participants in the study experienced significant improvements in their balance. Indeed, a number of these participants indicated they felt an improvement in their balance after playing Wii pickleball on a few occasions.

Nordic Walking

Fitness experts believe that Nordic walking may improve the gait of a person in his or her Golden Years. If you don’t particularly enjoy physical activity but do value its benefits for your body, Nordic walking may be an excellent exercise choice for you.

Nordic walking differs from regular walking by using what is known as walking poles. These walking poles are not your regular walking sticks. Using slings to holster the crooks of your arms, Nordic walking poles reposition the weight distribution in your body. As a result, Nordic walking poles force your posture upright.

This is thought to help the muscles of the lower body and core muscles. This process is believed to increase a person’s flexibility and strength. Fitness experts have concluded that Nordic walking is 106 percent more efficient than regular walking in improving gait speed among seniors.

Tai Chi

Fitness experts believe that Tai chi can improve:

  • Balance
  • Bone density
  • Muscle strength

Tai chi is a low-impact ancient Chinese martial art. Tai chi generally emphasizes deep breathing and slow, controlled movements. This is contrasted with quick complementary movements. Tai chi is not competitive. It allows participants to move at their own pace.

One study analyzed the impact of a 10-week tai chi program on seniors’ bodies, and the results were fairly promising. At the end of the program, various participants reported that they experienced relatively less anxiety and depression after the program, less physical pain or discomfort, and they had seen improvement in their balance and gait speed.

Consult Your Doctor

While you are commended for wanting to start a fitness program, and these options might prove helpful to you, before you embark on an exercise regimen, you need to consult with your doctor. You must ensure you are in the condition necessary to embark on a fitness program.

Let your doctor know what you would like to do in the way of a fitness program, including one or more of the activities discussed in this article.