Lifetime Sports

For fun and fitness that lasts a lifetime, try these sports today.

Woman in sweaty tank top - lifetime sports
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Lifetime sports are those you can play for, well, your whole life. Finding a sport you enjoy is one of the keys to exercise adherence, otherwise known as sticking with it once you start. It's much easier to find time (and money) for exercise when it's also a fun pastime—even a passion. And physical activity is important to your health at every age. For those over 65 years old, the ideal is at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, 5 days a week, or 20 minutes of vigorous exercise a day, 3 days a week; strength training is also beneficial.

Many, many sports and other fitness activities could be considered lifetime sports; it all depends on what you love. Tennis, golf, swimming, track and field, and many other sports have "masters" or "seniors" divisions that allow athletes to compete at top levels well into adulthood. But of course, there's no need to participate in competitions to play your favorite sports (unless you want to!).

What Makes a Sport a Lifetime Sport?

Just about any sport could be a lifetime sport for the right person, someone who's experienced and fit. If you're starting a little later in life, some sports are too risky to be a good bet. In contact or high-impact sports, "lifetime" status is less likely because of the higher risk of both traumatic and overuse injuries.

It sounds like a stereotype, but there is a reason why sports such as walking and water exercise are popular as lifetime sports. They are simple to pick up and don't require a ton of equipment.

You can walk at your own pace and on your own schedule. You can participate in water exercise anywhere you have access to a pool, although being enrolled in a class is usually helpful. Water exercise is easy on the joints. Yoga can help you preserve flexibility, and there is a huge spectrum of options for classes, from "restorative" to a more challenging "power" style class.

For lower risk options (there's no such thing as no risk), consider these lifetime-friendly sports:

  • Walking or hiking (indoor options could include tracks at a gym or even shopping mall walking)
  • Swimming or water aerobics
  • Golf
  • Yoga or Pilates
  • Dance
  • Tennis and other racquet sports
  • Bicycling
  • Bowling or curling
  • Canoeing and other paddle sports
  • Martial arts, especially tai chi
  • Cross-country skiing or snowshoeing
  • Sailing

It's never too late to start! Whether you are trying to help your child settle on a sport, or a young adult looking to create a path toward lifelong fitness, or an older adult trying to start or restart a fitness practice: There is a sport out there for you.

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