Active aging

Catherine McCulloch
Community Team Leader
Sport Bay of Plenty

A recent project between Sport New Zealand and Sport Bay of Plenty sought to understand the influences on older people's participation in sport and recreation as well as the wide ranging benefits of remaining active.

We often hear of the merits of physical activity like keeping healthy and fit but we know being active offers so much more than this.

The social aspects of sport and recreation are key reasons many older people enjoy participating. 

Through their chosen sport or activity older people often feel part of a community and get to know others through this shared interest. 

These connections provide ongoing motivation to keep participating and something as simple as a cup of tea after an activity can provide the opportunity for an informal catch up. 

With social isolation sometimes a challenge for older adults, participation in a regular activity can provide a sense of purpose and contribute toward a more positive mood and outlook. 

Regular participation in sport and recreation can help older people maintain a sense of freedom and independence and may provide relief or respite from more challenging aspects of their lives. 

The excitement of trying a new activity such as cycling or walking in the great outdoors provides great benefits and different physical activity options can also be an opportunity for discovery and growth, even at an advanced age. 

There are many options available in the community and Sport Bay of Plenty provide a comprehensive directory of what is available which can be found at   www.sportbop.co.nz/get-involved.

Often as older adults reduce work hours or retire they have time available that they didn't previously.  Many derive great pleasure in having time to give back to the community through coaching, sharing their skills, becoming more actively involved in a club or being on a committee.  

Some enjoy the opportunity to assist with organising and volunteering at different events and these new roles can help to provide a sense of identity, satisfaction and stimulation after finishing a career in the paid workforce.

With physical inactivity increasing and research showing that less than half of 65-74 year olds are meeting the recommended daily physical activity levels, we need to continue to promote the wide ranging benefits of an active lifestyle. 

For more information please see the following link on the Sport New Zealand website www.sportnz.org.nz/activeolderpeople.

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