Various studies conducted by the BMC Public Health have shown that the aging population is starting to develop strategies to incorporate age-appropriate sports and other viable physical activities into their daily lives. In fact, many sports including volleyball, swimming, golf, and tennis have seniors or masters divisions that allow athletes to participate in top-level competitions in later years. However, as people get older, muscles get tighter and injuries like tendon tears become more common. This has caused many people from the older age group to shy away from volleyball and other sports that they used to love in their early years. So how can you avoid the age-related pitfalls and maintain your fitness levels to play volleyball in your golden years?
Regular physical activity is key to maintaining fitness levels to play volleyball, but adopting good lifestyle habits can also help older adults to perform well in the sport. Research indicates that staying hydrated helps people over the age of 50 reap the full benefits of physical activities like sports and exercise. Older people are also at risk for heatstroke when spending too much time outdoors while playing volleyball, so it is important to keep a bottle of water around and to dress appropriately before going out to play.
Another noteworthy report made by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) recommends a well-balanced meal plan that focuses on lean proteins, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits, and vegetables to maintain a healthy weight to get the ball over the net. Before starting a volleyball program or any exercise routine, it’s worth seeking guidance from physicians and trainers to find enjoyable ways to exercise safely.
Strength training can help to keep older adults in top shape so they can enjoy playing volleyball for many years. Lifting weights, as well as using resistance bands while working out can help you gain strength in your muscles. Resistance bands can also help enhance your mobility, which can decrease as you age. If you're not used to working out or strength training, start by doing a few minutes of light activity and gradually increase the time and intensity. It is also important to have a good stretching routine along with the strength and training program. Experts note that this would help in decreasing the risk of injuries and tendon tears.
Health and fitness are natural byproducts of pursuing volleyball with the goal of learning new skills, improving performance, and having fun in the process. According to the National Health Service (NHS), adults over 65 who choose to remain active by playing volleyball pose a lower risk of stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Additionally, staying physically active can also help slow cognitive decline and minimize muscle loss that naturally occurs as people age. The NHS recommends a combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity volleyball sessions for at least 75 minutes each week in order to stay fit and healthy. To avoid the risk of overuse and traumatic injuries, take it slow and work with a coach to refine existing skills and learn new ones.
Staying hydrated and eating a variety of foods from all food groups can help in supplying the right nutrients a person needs as they age and equip them with the strength needed to play volleyball. Studies have also shown that this sport is often used as a tool to foster social connections and improve mental health for seniors. Additionally, organizations should ensure older adults who enjoy volleyball are given enough opportunities to pursue this sport as they age.