Get Fit by Playing a Team Sport: It’s Never too Late to Get Started!
Think you’re too old to join in team sports anymore? Well, according to Grimsby’s over 60s football squad, it’s time to think again! The group of football mad men have an average age of 65, many of them have suffered heart attacks and strokes in the past, yet they’re all determined to keep playing the beautiful game, and boosting their general health at the same time.
Inspirational Team Sports
The squad now features up to 15 players, all of whom say their football practices are the highlight of their week. Their chairman, Tony Parrott, is 70 years old, and has returned to football, even though it’s been 35 years since he’s played.
He says: ‘I have spoken to doctors and they all approve because it is walking exercise at a pace. You work up a sweat. It is good to come back on to the field after so long. I really look forward to Thursdays.’ In addition to playing each week, they’re looking to set up an official league, purely for players over the age of 60 across the country.
Other Sports for the Over 60s
Of course, football isn’t the only sport currently enjoyed by those over the age of 60. There’s also an official hockey league for over 50s and over 60s, plus plenty of rugby teams designed solely for older people. Indeed, in the US and Canada, older sports fans are leading the way, with 120 teams currently registered in the Oldtimers Soccer League in British Columbia, and dozens over 60s football teams in Boston.
It’s possible that there may already be a sports team in your local area. However, if there isn’t, remember that there’s nothing to stop you establishing one!
The Many Health Benefits
There are many advantages of playing football and other team sports when you’re over the age of 60. According to Peter Reddy, from Aston University, men who stay physically active are 20 to 30% less likely to die prematurely and 50% less likely to develop a chronic disease.
Team sports provide a welcome alternative to a session at the gym or a run in the local park. They’re often a social event, and a chance to have fun with friends and local like-minded people, in addition to keeping fit.
Interestingly, it seems that playing team sports helps to improve mental wellbeing too. Reddy mentions a study conducted in Dublin, observing the effects of playing football on a team of older players. They ‘have high levels of what we term ‘flow’, which really means psychological reward and satisfaction. They see it as fun and rewarding. Interestingly, they report that the level of stress and exertion is comparatively low, even though measurements show that they are working hard.’
Making a Start
If you’d like to get started playing a team sport in your local area, the first thing to do is to check whether or not one already exists. If it does, simply get in touch and find out if they have any available spaces for an additional member. If you can’t find one, explore options in terms of hiring space at a local sports field, or simply arrange an informal game in the nearest park with a group of friends!