Want to add years to your life while having fun and making friends? Here’s 6 great choices. Go for it. Posted on March 27, 2019March 29, 2019 by Dave Hall The news is out. Taking regular exercise in later years can add years to your life. Indeed, the benefits of regular physical activity are remarkable. Physically it helps maintain or lose weight. It improves the immune system, reduces the impact of illness and chronic disease. It enhances mobility, flexibility, and balance. Regular activity can also help you fall asleep more quickly, sleep more deeply, and wake feeling more energetic and refreshed and even improves brain function. Do we all want that? Of course. But does such exercise have to be as unstimulating as taking a walk or a swim? What about adding a competitive dimension? And then adding the benefit of comradeship and human interaction? The good news is there are some great ways to keep fit while also having fun and engaging with others of the human race. And here come my top 6 – with a heavy bias to my favourite. Walking Football: This is about taking part in the beautiful game but at a slower pace. Though mostly for men, it’s not exclusively so. My introduction to Walking Football came two years ago as I hit my 77 year marker. I plucked up the courage to show my face, along with a friend, at the Elite centre of Premiership club Burnley. Wisely, they asked me to fill in a form with a lot of medical details. Then I was off – to discover a sport well within my capabilities, despite my years. And happy I needed no more kit than an old pair of trainers and a track suit, or shorts and a T-shirt. A 15-minute warm up with a crowd of guys and two women stretched muscles that hadn’t been used for some years. Then the rules were explained – no running, physical contact, no kicking the ball above head height. Divided into three teams of five to seven depending on how many turned up, we played a series of games. It might have only been at walking pace but it seemed fast and furious. It seems some people appear to walk faster than others. The next hour was exhilarating, wonderfully enjoyable and now part of my regular keep fit and live longer routine. But I was also to discover my Burnley colleagues and I were far from alone. From a standing start less than ten years ago, as an initiative to encourage more exercise among the over 50s, Walking Football has blossomed to where the UK as about 450 clubs – and rising. There are even teams across Europe and in America, Columbia and Mexico. To check it out and get even more of the flavour see the website of Walking Football. Walking Netball. This has done for netball what Walking Football has done for soccer. The original has been adapted and designed so anyone can play regardless of age or fitness level. One of its strengths is the memories that come flooding back for those who have played the active version in their younger years. And, of course, when a group of girls of any age get together there’s always some fun and laughter. To explore and find a team near you see the website of Walking Netball. Squash. Squash and old age are not necessarily mutually exclusive – as the fact that the National Squash Championships include an Over 80s category. It just means the emphasis moves from speed and power to placement and accuracy. This indoor racket sport gives the whole body a workout. Even those no longer in their prime can burn off an average of 500 calories within half an hour of playing. Golf. It’s probably true that golf caters for seniors more than any other sport – with the handicap system serving to keep a level playing field. On offer is a good walk in the fresh air – and the greater novice you are the further you walk. A muscle work out, thanks to carrying the clubs. And the need to think through ‘what next’ sharpens the mind. Then comes all the banter and friendship built round the 19th hole. Bowling. Bowling comes in a variety of guises – ten-pin, lawn and carpet for starters. All may look sedate but there’s great health benefits here. The heavy ball helps with improving balance and strength. And the activity increases balance and coordination. With a little Googling you should easily find a club with a seniors section. Pickleball You may never have heard of it but this racquet sport that manages to combine badminton, tennis and table tennis, is growing in popularity with those in later life. It’s played at a slower place, on a smaller court than tennis, and is easy to pick up. To know more see the website of Pickeball. Take your pick from these 6 choices for fitness and fun or find an alternative of your own. But do get out there for a healthier and longer life. And for more on health, fitness and managing your weight do see the wisdom from health and fitness guru Rosemary Conley on the AfterWorkNet website. David Hall Dave Hall spent his working life as a journalist on local newspapers, Christian magazines, and as a press officer. Married with two adult children – one living in Spain and the other close to his home near Burnley. At his village church Dave preaches and helps at Little Stars, the mums’ and toddlers’ group, and Messy Church. What have you found as a way to keep fit and actually enjoy the experience? Please share here or with our Facebook Group.