The Best Sports for Athletes Over 50

Man with a tennis ball and a racquet

People are living longer, more fulfilled lives by continuing to stay active long into their silver years. Playing sports over the age of 50 increases your overall health and sense of well-being. According to AARP, people who exercise regularly have a reduced chance of heart disease, diabetes and mental illness. Certain sports are now becoming favorites among older athletes.


A recent study conducted by Indiana University found that swimming three to five times a week, for roughly three to five miles, postponed the effects of aging for several decades. It's little wonder that athletes over the age of 50 have flocked to the pool for regular exercise. Swimming is an all around sport that promotes cardiovascular health and muscular elasticity and reduces stress. Each swimming stroke has its own set of benefits and each water-based discipline is sure to improve aerobic activity and blood circulation. Water sports put less strain on the body's joints and bones, making them ideal for seniors who want an effective low-impact workout.


Tennis is a sport that healthy individuals can play at nearly any age. The cardiovascular benefits of the sport make it ideal for athletes 50 years and older. In fact, the Cleveland Clinic reports that an individual of average size can burn anywhere from 420 to 600 calories in a singles match. Physiologist Dr. Gordon Blackburn, Ph.D., states, "You’ll burn more calories playing three hours of tennis per week than you will doing three hours of light weightlifting, bowling or golfing." It maintains coordination and stamina through intense interval training. During a tennis match, the body is compelled to sprint, stop and change directions for the duration of the match. That makes tennis quite the endurance sport.


Golf is one of the best sporting activities for athletes over the age of 50. Watching a professional golf tournament will clue you into the fact that golf is not just for the young crowd. Playing golf builds flexibility in the muscles and joints, because it requires a full range of motion to properly swing a golf club. It's a sport of technique, not brute strength. Even casual golfers who play a couple of days a week could find themselves walking anywhere from four to eight miles. Walking a round of golf promotes healthy metabolism and keeps your cholesterol levels low. One of the most overlooked benefits of playing golf after the age of 50 is that you can still play with some common disabilities such as hearing loss and mild arthritis.


Weightlifting might not be the obvious sport choice for athletes over 50, but it is rapidly gaining in popularity for this age group. Senior athletes like Ray Moon and Jack LaLanne proved the value of weightlifting by remaining competitive in the sport of bodybuilding late into their seventies. Luckily, you don't have to be a competitive body builder to reap the many benefits of strength training, including the preservation of bone density and muscle mass. Weightlifting even helps seniors prevent injuries from slip and fall accidents, giving them a renewed sense of independence and self-reliance. You are never too old to start weightlifting, just start slowly and work with a licensed personal trainer.