Life Here

August 22, 2023 By PVE Marketing Admin

Play Ball!

Fitness trends come and go. Bouncing. Back and forth. Back … and … forth. Not unlike that hard plastic ball popping over the net in everyone’s favorite game right now: pickleball! Whether you’ve followed that trend or passed on the pickle, there are lots of reasons to play all kinds of ball games, be they traditional games from your youth or the newest craze taking courts by storm. Older adults, in particular, can benefit both physically and cognitively from tossing, rolling, tapping or swinging at a ball. What’s so special about orb-related activity? Let’s get this ball rolling and find out.

The physical benefits of moving — whether a ball is involved in the effort or not – are, of course, well documented. Physical activity is a great way for seniors to gain substantial health benefits and maintain independence. Keeping your limbs limber, your joints loose and your blood circulating requires regular activity. Choosing activity you enjoy, or that you learn to enjoy over time, is the best way to ensure you’ll stick with it. If you’re an older adult looking to add a bit of fun into your wellness journey, working a ball into your routine could be the answer.

Net Gain

Pickleball and its more rigorous cousin tennis are great games for seniors because they can provide both activity and social connection. Pickleball — a cross between tennis, badminton and ping-pong — has taken off in independent living communities, senior centers and racquet clubs around the country. Time magazine reports that more than half of those who play pickleball eight or more times a year are 55 or older and almost a third are over 65. Why? The answers vary. But two of the most compelling: It’s an easy game to learn, and the impact of tapping the ball over the net is kinder to your joints than other net games because the court is significantly smaller than a tennis court and the ball is infinitely lighter — similar to a whiffle ball.

If you live in a senior living community, like Paradise Valley Estates, that offers pickleball, take advantage of the opportunity. If not, type “pickleball in my community” into your web browser, and you’ll most likely find informal leagues, lessons and other interested seniors who want to connect on the courts in and around your neighborhood.

Another net game that’s quite popular with older adults? Beach ball volleyball! With a simple tap of the fingers or hands, a colorful beach ball can go sailing gently over a badminton net set up in your yard, garage or community center. This game is often played by seniors who are both seated and standing, making it an inclusive way to have a ball. At Paradise Valley Estates, residents play beach ball volleyball in the pool, adding to the fitness and fun of the sport.

Fore the Fun of It

Golf is often linked (get it?) to seniors as a game of choice for many. Researchers in Britain have found that people over 65 could gain more health benefits from playing golf than from walking. No reason why the Brits should claim all the course fun. American seniors have a love of the game too, and for good reason. The benefits of swinging a club, walking about the course and spending time with friends are many.

Regular rounds of golf are good for balance, help with cardiovascular fitness and provide a source of companionship. Keeping score — and maybe placing a few friendly bets — is also good for mental acuity and brain fitness. For seniors whose golfing days are behind them — or those who never picked up the sport — putting can be just as enjoyable and beneficial. It’s great for hand-eye-ball coordination, gets you up out of your chair, and gives your arms and shoulders a reason to move. So grab your club and a bag of balls and head toward the greens.

Mobile at Home

Aging affects bone density as well as muscle mass and strength. It’s no surprise advancing years can also make our joints stiffer and less flexible due to a thinning of cartilage. Those clicks in your knees as you climb stairs echo these findings. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) explains that inactivity is an “important contributor to sarcopenia,” the medical term for the loss of muscle mass, strength and function. The good news is this diminished bone density and muscle strength can be mitigated! Seated exercises with a ball are great for seniors with limited mobility or balance issues, but any seated exercise can be modified for standing. Grab a ball of any size — from a tennis ball to a fitness ball — and try these at-home exercises:

Sit ‘n’ Squeeze. Sit up straight in a chair and place the ball between your thighs. Squeeze your thighs closer together around the ball. Release. Squeeze. Release. Like a pulse. Repeat the squeezing pulse for 30 seconds and then rest.

Roll it Out. Sit or stand up straight, with a tennis or golf ball gently clasped in each hand. Extend both arms in front of you and roll your wrists, ball in hand, in circles 10 times in each direction. Lower your arms to rest and repeat once.

Sit and Stand Ups. Sit toward the front of a sturdy chair with your arms hanging down by your sides and a beach ball, playground ball or fitness ball in your lap. Grab the ball with both hands, lean forward from your hips so your weight shifts to your feet. Stand up slowly, holding the ball between your hands and extending your arms out straight in front of you with the ball raised to chest level. Pause for a breath while standing, shift your hips back, bend your knees and sit back down, resting the ball in your lap again. Do this five to 10 times, resting for 15 seconds between.

Don’t Fall for It

Strength and balance are two of the most important factors in preventing falls for seniors. The

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends strength and balance exercises be done at least three times a week to reduce the risk of falls. Adding a ball — whether a beach ball, yoga ball or even a balloon — can make these exercises fun and enhance your fall-prevention efforts. Check out this seated ball routine developed for older adults.

Fitness Options Abound

No matter what you choose to keep moving, incorporating a ball into your routine can amp up the fun and fitness factor of many activities. At Paradise Valley Estates, residents enjoy an array of wellness pursuits. From pickleball — yes, the craze is alive and well here — to tennis, cycling, award-winning classes and more. Check out our fitness programming or bounce on over to our adventures page to check out our varied opportunities for movement and wellness.

fitness options at Paradise Valley Estates


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