National bodies adapt sports for the elderly

National bodies adapt sports for the elderly

Keeping active is seen as the most important way to prevent illness as we age and taking part in sports can also help to stave off loneliness. With this in mind, the Oomph! Wellness group has been established to focus on making such activities more accessible to the elderly.

It has contacted a number of national government bodies that oversee different areas of sport and had some positive results. Chief executives and the elderly who have taken part have hailed the initiative a success.

Volleyball England has started classes that have been adapted so older people can play from their armchairs. Instead of the usual equipment that requires time and space to set up, bunting and an inflatable ball are pressed into use.

Another organisation to follow suit is British Orienteering, which has tweaked some of its trails to make them old age-friendly. The routes pass post boxes and local landmarks that will be familiar to the community and encourage them to get involved.

Peter Hart, chief executive officer of British Orienteering, told The Telegraph: “This is the first time we have adapted many of our introductory activities to work with inactive older adults. It’s my belief that orienteering can offer older adults a fantastic mix of physical and mental exercise by adapting the challenge to suit their abilities.”

Pensioners that are keen to keep their strength into their senior years can now do so with the help of British Weightlifting. There are no dumbbells in sight, however, as participants are encouraged to lift foam bars and water bottles instead.

Reenie Boot is a 93-year-old from Welwyn Garden City, who has become a fan of the activities. She spoke to the news provider about her experience: “I absolutely loved it; so much fun and can’t wait for next time to get moving and laughing.”

The importance of remaining active in old age has not bypassed Sport England, which has launched its own Active Ageing fund. It has been designed to help promote movement in the over-55s as a way of ensuring a healthier population.

As well as improving the fitness of the nation, such initiatives can have another benefit, which is tackling loneliness. Some 17 per cent of older people only see others, including friends, relatives or neighbours less than once a week, according to statistics from the Campaign to End Loneliness.

Sport is a great way to overcome social isolation and something that people of all ages can get involved with. Such activities are even a good way for those in care homes to come together and participate on a regular basis.

Gillian Harrison, technical and talent coordinator at Volleyball England, commented: “We are always keen for people to join the volleyball family because we know that everyone can get involved and benefit socially and physically - volleyball is the sport for everybody.

“Sitting Volleyball is one of the disciplines of volleyball which is already popular and a great chance for players with and without a disability to play together.”

Oomph! Wellness is looking to partner with more organisations to help make sports accessible for everyone. As the initiative’s repertoire grows, there is bound to be an activity to suit your elderly loved ones and it may even spark some memories from their youth.