Ready to join a sports club?

Having 'team spirit' encourages you to keep fit and healthy, enjoy the fresh air, and meet other people with similar interests. You’ll make new friends, feel great and reap a slew of health benefits. It is never too late to start!

Benefits galore
Taking part in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily elicits a wealth of health and social benefits for all of us. We all know, it can become difficult to keep up the motivation to stay active, particularly in the winter months. Making the decision to join a sports club will help keep you on track. After all, it is harder to skip a work-out when you know others are relying on you.

Keeping active improves or maintains mobility, flexibility and functional ability. Plus it assists with maintaining strength and balance, which helps to prevent injury-inducing falls. Physical activity also maintains bone strength, improves endurance and stamina, which increases energy levels. Daily physical exercise has been proven to help manage arthritis and ward off life threatening diseases such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise also assists with weight control and helps regulate blood pressure.

It has also been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Another benefit is improved sleep and self-confidence. On a social level, physical activity puts us in touch with the local community and broadens our network, thereby increasing community connectedness.

What to aim for
Moderate physical exercise is classified as physical activity that causes your heart to beat faster and induces some shortness of breath, yet still allows you to talk comfortably. The recommended 30 minutes does not need to be continuous, but could, for example, be spread across three 10-minutes sessions per day. For extra health and fitness, it is also recommended that you engage in some regular vigorous exercise.

Aim to achieve a balance between different types of exercise. The three main categories of physical activity include: endurance/fitness, which involves increasing the demand on the heart and lungs by jogging or swimming; strength training with an emphasis on building muscle strength through lifting weights or stair climbing; and balance, mobility and flexibility, which includes stretching exercises such as yoga.

Ready to get started? Here is a list of ten fun social activities to try.

1. Masters swimming
Swimming is a fantastic option as it is non-weight bearing and therefore suitable for all ages and levels of mobility, yet it still greatly enhances fitness. It is particularly beneficial for those of us with joint pain or hip or back injuries, who are unable to run. Most swimming pools have master’s classes for seniors, so check out the Masters Swimming Australia site or your local centre and get free-styling today! 

2. Dancing classes
Love to dance? Salsa or other dancing classes are a fun way for you and your partner to enjoy a fun activity together and get fit at the same time. It is also a great way to meet new people. It is possible to go solo to most classes so you will have a chance to meet some great new people while you get fit. Dancing is highly beneficial for balance, coordination and cardiovascular health. Serious dancers visit Dance Sport or keep an eye out for classes in your local area.

3. Walking clubs
Want to add some variety to your regular walking or looking for a way to keep you ‘on track’? Joining a walking group will allow you to get to know new local members of your community, while getting out and exploring the local scenery. Rather than walking on your own, walking clubs inspire you to get more active and to meet and chat to people with similar interests. See Short Walks for more information.

4. Croquet
Originating in medieval France, the history of ‘modern’ croquet is a very civilised game also traced back to England in the 1850s where it was popular with both men and woman. Croquet is unusual as women have always held an equal footing and played with and against men. The object of this game is to race around a circle of hoops. The winner is the first side to get both of their balls through the 12 hoops in order and hit the peg. Ready to find out more? Visit Croquet Australia.

5. Canoeing
This fun activity lets you become immersed in nature and explore new areas while giving your core a very solid workout. Rather than staring at the walls of a gym, canoeing allows you to explore the great outdoors, it also improves your strength and fitness in new and exciting settings and you will be doing it with similarly adventurous people. See more here.

6. Tai chi
A wonderful and traditional Chinese form of martial art that involves focusing the mind solely on the movements of the form. The slow, meditative movements encourage flexibility, mobility, strength and balance as well as mental calmness and clarity. See Tai Chi Australia for more information.

7. Badminton
This sport is a fun and challenging way to keep fit, and allows you to engage in friendly competition with others. It greatly improves fitness and hand-eye coordination and is slightly slower pace than other ball sports like tennis or squash. See more information here.

8. Yoga
A meditative activity that is suitable for any age. Taking yoga classes will greatly improve strength, flexibility and balance, and also encourage a heightened spiritual awareness. Today, there are many modern branches of yoga to choose from, such as bikram (hot) yoga, antigravity (aerial) yoga, or yoga meditation. Speak to a teacher at your local studio before you join your first class. Warning: it can be addictive but is harder than it looks! See Yoga Australia for more information.

9. Sailing
Heading out on the water can double as a challenging hobby and a great workout. The focus, teamwork and physical exertion required by sailors makes it a perfect social activity. See Discover Sailing for more information. 

10. Archery
This is a booming sport in Australia, with hundreds of clubs and competitions popping up across the country. Masters archery is a big part of the sport, encouraging competitors from age groups 50-59, 60-69 and 70+ to take part. Visit the Archery Australia website to find out more about the different categories and to locate a club near you. 

Where to find local sporting clubs
There are plenty of resources to discover more about the benefits of regular exercise and to find a social sporting club near you. The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing produced a physical activity guide for older Australian to encourage everyone get out and get active. Active Ageing Australia also has many helpful tips and links. Alternatively, you could visit the Australian Masters Games home page to see the competitive sports available to seniors. You could also visit your state department’s website for more information on sport and recreation clubs near you.

Want more information? Here are the best databases available for your state:

More of a homebody? Here are some great tips to staying fit without leaving your house 

What are your favourite social or sporting activities? Share your tips or comments below…