As you grow older, taking care of your health remains as important as ever. It’s normal to lose lean muscle mass, experience gains in body fat and notice slowing rates of metabolism as you age, all of which can raise your risks for injury and disease. Participating in fitness games and staying active can help combat all of these challenges and keep you as healthy and strong as possible.
Balloon ball is a game that works well for seniors who use wheelchairs, those with limited ranges of motion or those who live in nursing home care centers and can participate in only basic exercise. To play, you’ll need an air pump and an extra-large balloon or beach ball. Fill the balloon, arrange everyone who is playing in a circle and then release the ball into the circle. Every player can take a turn catching the ball and passing it to another player, or players can simply reach up and tap the ball to keep it aloft and moving. It’s not a vigorous game, but it encourages better flexibility and gentle movements.
Tossing games, such as horseshoes, mini-basketball or bean bag toss, can work for seniors in wheelchairs as well as those who are more mobile. They promote very light cardiovascular activity and improved muscle movement in both the lower and upper body. Depending on their strength level, mark lines a certain distance away from the target, and have them toss at any one of the lines. If they are able to stand up and move about freely, have them squat down and rise up again before each toss.
Water polo, water volleyball and other water aerobic activities are excellent choices for seniors of all mobility levels because water reduces stress and strain on joints and muscles. Seniors can sign up for a swim class, hit the pool with friends to splash around, play some Marco Polo or participate in water sports.
No matter what your age, it’s important for you to get approval from a doctor before beginning an exercise plan or participating in any fitness game, especially if you have a chronic health condition, are obese or are not used to being active. Your doctor can also recommend specific games and activities that might reduce pain you have or help strengthen specific areas of muscle weakness in your body. Any level of activity is better than none, so even if you only participate in games a couple of times per week, be consistent and committed.