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Retired and Realistic

Joined: 1/2/2012
Posts: 118
As retirees, we have to be realistic about changes in our body while striving to maintain good physical health. Sports that we used to play with ease are now more difficult or even out of the question. Weaker muscles strain more easily, reaction time and fluid movement is inhibited, and our proficiency is diminished. That does not necessarily mean that it is time to throw in the towel – we might just need to adjust to a new normal.

I have played competitive club tennis since my early twenties and have been consistently ranked among the better players at my level. During the past five years I suffered several injuries that have “sidelined” me for weeks on end. A couple of them resulted in multiple visits to a Physical Therapist. Knowing that I am more prone to injury because of my age has led me to play cautiously. Caution led to inconsistency, which led to disappointment and frustration – to the point that I almost walked away.

I am not ready to give up my beloved sport, but it is inevitable that I will have to at some point in the future. Recognizing that the day may be sooner rather than later, I have been trying on a few new activities, in hopes that something will fill the gap – Zumba, bike riding, weight training. So far, nothing is as fulfilling as tennis, but I do enjoy each activity for different reasons.

I have always known there were benefits to cross-training, but I have never consciously or consistently participated in regular activities beyond tennis. This "experiment" opened my eyes to some of those benefits.

Stamina: The Zumba class (low impact aerobic Latin dance) gets my heart rate going quickly and promotes endorphins. It also encourages creative movement, which is good for the soul.

Lower Body Strength: Bike riding has strengthened my legs and has increased the power of my lower body.

Upper Body Strength: Weight training has helped with muscle tone and it has increased strength in my arms and shoulders.

Paying attention to our overall fitness is essential to playing any competitive sport during our retirement years. Coupled with a healthy diet, rest and sufficient daily hydration there is no compelling reason to avoid doing what we love for as long as we feel comfortable. The key for me has been to understand how my body performs and look for clues that suggest a change in my routine and to make the necessary adjustments.

At this stage of life my goal is to have fun, stay fit and avoid injury. Maybe I still have a few more competitive years in me yet. How about you? How have you adjusted to both the physical and mental changes to your body during your retirement years?
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Comment by warren

Joined: 6/22/2011
Posts: 293
My son may be the certified personal trainer, but you can be the inspiration. (I think I'll pass on Zumba.)
Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 3:26:20 PM
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