Volleyball has become a favorite sport for seniors at The Saybrook at Haddam – and boy, do we have fun! Well, we may be sitting in chairs and playing with a balloon instead of a real volleyball but other than that, the idea is the same: We work together to get the ball over the “net” to the other team. The other big difference is that we play for laughs and not for score!
Our form of this Olympic sport gets seniors moving with lots of (safe) stretching and swinging of the arms. It also promotes balance, strategic thinking, group participation, and wonderful socialization.
What we love most about our volleyball games is that they offer seniors such an engaging way to exercise. While most of our residents are well aware of the importance of physical activity, some simply don’t enjoy “formal” fitness routines of going to our gym or taking an exercise class. These types of people, however, seem to be more attracted to games like volleyball. This motivates us to be creative in finding ways to encourage exercise by stressing the fun.
Here’s a look at some of the more interesting ways our senior community enjoys fitness:
- Bowling — Early on, we started a bowling league in our recreational room. Residents sit or stand while rolling the ball down our homemade lane, trying to strike down slightly oversized bowling pins. This is such a popular activity – and is a favorite for the young volunteers and visitors to take part in.
- Lawn games — The Saybrook at Haddam has such beautiful grounds with lawns perfect for a variety of group games. We regularly get together for lawn darts, bocce ball, and croquet – all simple games that stress fun (while offering some level of fitness).
- Tai Chi – We have a wonderful instructor visit us weekly (with her dog, by the way) to lead us in challenging yet enjoyable Tai Chi. These stretches offer endless benefits – and having our little furry visitor by our side adds to the enjoyment.
- Dancing – We often combine music and motion, which is all you really need for dancing. Sometimes, we do group or line dances, sometimes we have more traditional couples dancing (like at our June “brides’ month” wedding celebration), sometimes we are just swaying in our seats. Either way, we are all moving and having a good time.
AARP reports that 60 percent of people over age 64 are considered sedentary. This is especially troubling since staying physically fit is one of the best things any senior can do to help avoid falls, delay or prevent illness or disease (including dementia and Alzheimer’s), and keep depression away. It also speeds up recovery time if an injury does occur.
Seniors who do not live in a retirement community are encouraged to turn to friends, neighbors and family members to help them stay physically (and socially) active. Fortunately, there are many fitness opportunities in general for seniors and by stressing fun, exercise can be much easier to enjoy!
So, volleyball, anyone?