Lifetime sports are physical activities that people can enjoy throughout their lives. In contrast to contact sports such as football, ice hockey, boxing and wrestling, less strenuous sports such as tennis, badminton, archery and fly fishing are suitable for people in all stages of life and can serve as physical and social outlets. Another aspect of lifetime sports is that you can continue to develop mastery and skill as you get older, with wisdom and experience helping to make up for reduced reflexes and physical abilities.
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Badminton -- a racket sport that is played on a rectangular court divided by a net -- can help you retain agility and coordination as you grow older. Badminton can be played as either a singles or a doubles game. The object is to strike a shuttle -- or feathered projectile -- over the net so that your opponents are not able to return it. Basic equipment required to get started are rackets, shuttles, a court and a net. Loose clothes, comfortable socks and thin-soled badminton shoes are the usual attire. Badminton is played to 21 points, with a successful serve scoring a point. Whichever side wins the rally -- or succeeds in hitting the shuttle so the opponents can't return it -- receives another point. The serve, the forehand grip, the backhand grip, and the forehand overhand are basic skills you need to master to play badminton.
Like badminton, tennis can be played as either a singles or a doubles game and involves using a racket to hit a projectile -- in this case, a ball -- over a net. Tennis has its origins in 13th century France and a game called jeu de paume, in which players hit balls over a net with their bare hands. The name tennis is adapted from the French phrase tenetz, meaning take heed, traditionally shouted as competitors struck the ball. Modern-day tennis is played on a rectangular court of concrete, asphalt, grass or clay. The outcome of a game is determined by the best of three out of five sets; in order to win a set a player must score at least four points in total and two more than his opponent. People can enjoy tennis at an advanced age. Doubles tennis -- which is less strenuous -- is a particularly good bet for older adults.
Archery is a precision sport in which participants aim and shoot at a target using a bow and arrow. Archery requires a steady hand, a good eye and the ability to control your nerves. Participating in archery can foster a sense of connection with an ancient tradition. Egyptians were fashioning bows with flint arrowheads as long ago as 3500 years B.C. Today, target archery -- the most popular form -- involves shooting arrows at a target from a set distance. The target has 10 concentric circles, with the score depending on where the arrow lands on the target. The innermost circle is worth 10 points; missing the target entirely yields a zero. To get started with this intriguing sport, you will need a bow and bow case, arrows and an arrow rest.
Fly fishing -- an activity that can be both relaxing and challenging -- involves the use of carefully crafted hand-tied artificial flies, which mimic the look of the fish's natural food. You can catch a variety of fish, including brook, brown and rainbow trout, sunfish, crappies, and even athletic and scrappy northern pike. It takes practice to master the skill of fly casting, which has been likened to trying to throw a leaf. The Fly Fishing Basics website recommends starting with a mid-weight fly rod, line and reel; some stores sell beginner's packages. Backward, forward and roll casts are important skills to learn for fly fishing.