Use upcoming Senior Games to inspire your fitness goals

Contributing writerJuly 10, 2013 

Do you have what it takes to be an active senior?

More than 2,000 athletes will descend into the South Sound over the next few weeks to participate in the 17th Washington State Senior Games. These men and women older than 50 are modeling what it takes to stay active and fit for life. Sporting events are fun to watch, but it is even more enjoyable to participate. Do you participate because you are fit and healthy or are you fit and healthy because you participate? The mission of the Washington State Senior Games is to promote health and fitness for life. A little friendly competition just adds to the fun experience. Tell someone that they are only playing for “fun” and you might have a battle on your hands. There are fiercely competitive folks in each event, but there are also folks who have just recently begun to enjoy the sport. From individual to team sports, sprints to long distance runs, swimming to ballroom dancing, the Senior Games has an event for you.

Registration for this year’s games closes on Tuesday, July 16. While it may be late to join the events this year, it is not too late to come out and cheer on the participants. Walking around and following the athletic events is a good way to exercise also. Check it out and see if you might want to compete next year. Then connect with people you meet and learn the basics of a new sport you want to try. If you are a lifelong athlete and think the senior games are too easy for you, think again. You will be surprised by the caliber of the competition.

If you are not yet physically active, it is not too late to start. Make sure you talk it over with your health care provider, start slow, and understand your limitations. If you decide to participate in the Senior Games, starting a year ahead of time with a physical check-up is a good idea. Then work up to your participation goals over the next few months. Before you know it, you will no longer be a spectator, but an avid participant. Scientists have found that staying physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities. In some cases, exercise is an effective treatment for chronic conditions. For example, studies show that people with arthritis, heart disease, or diabetes benefit from regular exercise. Exercise also helps people with high blood pressure, balance problems, or difficulty walking. Regular, moderate physical activity can also help manage stress and improve your mood.

Let’s face it, most of us over age 50 have watched our children and grandchildren participate in group sports. Now it is their turn to watch us compete! The main track and field event is at Tumwater High School on Saturday, July 27. Swimming is at Briggs YMCA on Sunday, July 28. The Senior Games website http://pugetsoundgames.com lists the details of all the events and locations. We hope you will come and join the fun. Dr. Diana T. Yu is the Health Officer for Thurston and Mason counties. Reach her at 360-867-2501, yud@co.thurston.wa.us or @yu4health on Twitter.

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