Oftentimes, when talking about sports participation, the subject ultimately is aimed at youth participation numbers. And rarely are professional sports talked about with participation because that is an elite of the elite niche of participation. But one area that is overlooked is adult participation in many sports and the health benefits that go along with that participation.
Adults may watch a lot of sports and spend hours filling out their March Madness bracket but haven’t set foot on a court in years. Less than 26% of adults play a sport yearly over the age of 26 years old, while the percentage of adults between the ages of 18 and 25 is over 40%. There are numerous opportunities for adults to play sports, but many are not taking those opportunities.
The health benefits of playing sports cannot be argued with, but adults are increasingly leaving sports behind even though they offer such great benefits. Staying active as one ages helps keep the body strong while decreasing the risk of serious health issues such as cardiovascular disease and strokes. But sports can also help by improving cognitive function as well.
And these health benefits can be gained through a wide range of different sports that can be played by any level of player at any age. In today’s world, everything can be modified to adequately accommodate players of all ages in all sports. Even slower-paced sports like golf have their health benefits, like walking, strategy, which works the brain and cognitive functions that are just as important as the rest of the body.
Roadblocks to Adult Sports
There are many roadblocks that might hinder people from participating in adult sports. Many times they have nothing to do with the sport itself, but often it has to do with other external circumstances. As adults age, their priorities become different. Families, careers, and other lifestyle choices come into play and there is only a limited amount of time for activities.
But adult sports don’t need to take up that much time and can happen only frequently in a period of time. They don’t even need to be truly organized sports. Setting up a pickup game of basketball with friends on a Saturday morning every two weeks is better than nothing. But there are adult leagues out there that are more organized who may only play one or two nights a week for say a two-month stretch.
Physical limitations are also a big roadblock. Many don’t want to risk a possible injury while playing because that will affect their daily life even more than playing the sport will. And that is completely understandable and a legitimate concern. But there are inherent risks in anything we do in our lives and we only live once. But many leagues and organizations are now making modifications to entice adults back into sports while limiting the risk.
Modifying Sports for Adults
Modifications can be made for certain sports as well. Basketball for instance. Many fitness centers are making rules that allow for sports leagues to be competitive and allow most people to participate with little risk of injury. A favorite is Walking Basketball where participants are only allowed to walk (speed walking is acceptable). This slows down the pace of the game but still allows participants to be active without needing a tremendous amount of cardiovascular stamina to compete with their fellow participants.
Many leagues also have divisions within them for competition’s sake while trying to keep things as fair and safe as possible. Softball does very well with this. They have divisions from recreational all the way up to A-level softball that is highly competitive. Others split their divisions into age groups, much the way youth sports do, to keep those in a certain age group competing against one another. These are great ways to make modifications without changing the integrity of the sport being played.
Get Out There
If you are wanting to get back into a sport that you loved to play as a kid, start looking. Do your research and find the best fit for what you want to do. And if there isn’t anything in your immediate area, maybe it’s time to start something that would work. Be creative, recruit friends, family, and other locals to create something fun and exciting to get active and stay healthy.