When was the last time you played sport?
When we are young we want to give everything a go and you probably kicked a ball or swam regularly. But have you played sport recently?
Sadly, as we move into the ‘real world’ most of us stop playing sport. We justify it to ourselves saying “I’m too old”, “I don’t have enough time” or “I don’t want to get hurt”.
Yes, some of these are all legitimate concerns. As we get older and our priorities shift, the risk vs reward of playing a sport may actually be far too great. However as we get older there are some important elements that the gym won’t give you.
Here are just a couple of reasons why I think its important for adults to continue to play sport:
1. To keep your ability to move through space effectively and freely
I already hear people saying well that’s why I go to the gym! Which is fair BUT in your program how may planes of motion are you moving on?
Could you do every movement in your program in a doorway? Do you move laterally and change direction, left to right on a full 360 degree of motion?
It is important to utilise reinforcing movements on all planes of motion. After all, life doesn’t only work on a single plane. Doing things regularly that force you to move outside of a sagittal plane is only going to benefit you as you get older.
2. To maintain a good reaction time and to keep your coordination
Catching a ball for some is a pretty simple task. For others it is far harder but regularly practicing skills where you are reacting to an object/s is important to your continued health and well being.
Just the simple act of moving and catching a ball can help keep your hand-eye co-ordination sharp and help with reaction times. This can be particularly important when the stakes are high but the mind drifts off into automatic mode, like driving a car or pushing a child in a stroller.
This is not a declaration that we all should sign up for the same sports we used to play when we were younger (especially one where our risk of injury could impact our livelihood), but rather it is a recognition that we all need to maintain our ability to play, competer and get our hearts beating.
Gym work and resistance training is important to maintain a high quality of life, but also needs to be used to enhance our ability to play and move outside the confines of the gym’s four walls. A good program and a good coach will be able to show you the best way to do this.
Keep working hard and work train with purpose.
And if you’d like further information on how you can attempt to age gracefully, see here.