How do you stay fit when your goal in life isn’t to work in a circus catching cannonballs, win a triathlon, aim for a gold medal in the Olympics or punch out Sylvester Stallone?
Do we all have to look like Mr. Universe to stay fit? For those of us who would rather just keep their figure slim and their heart strong, it is helpful to know a few sports that do not involve guts and glory â€¦ just good, old, fashion fun.
The number one swill and swagger sport in the United States is probably softball. Feel like a brew while you’re sitting on the bench, but don’t mind some hard-rocking base-running, try signing up for softball. Some leagues are even co-ed, all the more reason to stay in shape.
What you need: A softball, baseball bats (a selection of various weights), a glove for everyone on the field. For adults, there is a huge selection of baseball gloves available, and these work well, although the larger gloves work best for the larger ball.
Tennis is supposedly a sport for the elite. Only those who can afford a tennis court or membership in a club get a chance to play tennis.
While there is some truth to that, many public high schools, community colleges and universities have courts that remain open year round. Tennis is invigorating and relaxing. Like softball, you are not in motion 100 percent of the time, making it a little easier on the ticker than basketball and a little easier on everything else than tackle football or lacrosse.
What you need: Racquets, three tennis balls, and a court.
Racquetball and Other Paddle Sports
There are several other options for racquet sports that are not tennis. Squash is one option, as is racquetball, which uses an indoor box-like court and a rubber ball. There’s also paddleball, which is in between tennis and racquetball, played outside in a court with a fence close enough to include bounces off the fence as part of the game.
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Moreover, don’t knock it until you’ve tried everything else. Golf is a highly enjoyable pastime that is not exactly cardio, but is good for staying in shape, nevertheless. It takes athletic stability, if nothing else, to play well and the camaraderie is hard to beat.
What you need: A set of clubs, a golf bag, tees, and a course. For extras, a ball marker for the greens, a divot repair tool (carried in your pocket) and a telescoping golf ball fishing pole for retrieving your ball from the water hazards.
Soccer is a workout, no question about it, but leagues are everywhere these days and it does require less hard jarring than football or lacrosse. Generally, good for the 20-45 age groups.
What you need: A field, a soccer ball, nets or some objects that can serve to mark where the nets would be.
There’s ultimate Frisbee, if you like to run and just plain Frisbee for a day at the park or the beach.
What you need: A Frisbee, a wide open space to play.
You might resent the hills more each year, but you can hop on a bicycle at almost any age - recommended, perhaps, for ages six through 70. A few of the great things about bicycling, aside from the stupendous scenery, is the sense of accomplishment, the ability to go at your own pace and the point that it blends in well with other activities, like light shopping or going on a picnic.
What you need: A bicycle, a tire pump, a few miles of roads, and a helmet.
Like bicycling, you can go at your own pace when swimming laps and, also like bicycling, there are chances to join local teams if you have the vigor for some club-type competitions.
What you need: A bathing suit and a pool.
Don’t forget winter. Figure skating or hockey are both terrific for a cardio workout or for losing weight. And competitive figure skating does NOT stop at the Olympics. You rarely hear of it, but there are amateur competitions across the country for age groups all the way up to seniors.
What you need: Skates and a ice skating rink.
Cross Country Skiing
When your knees fail to make it on the slopes, anymore, try cross country skiing. This can also be adjusted to fit your needs. Hit the flat lands for a while before you work your way up to more hilly terrain. Nothing beats the scenery of cross country skiing - nothing! Well, except for 18 holes at Pebble Beach, naturally.
What you need: Special skis and shoes, ski poles, winter clothing, open terrain or a park. Also a map. And some snacks.