Want to add years to your life while having fun and making friends? Here’s 6 great choices. Go for it.

The news is out. Taking regular exercise in later years can add years to your life. Indeed, the benefits of regular physical activity are remarkable.

Physically it helps maintain or lose weight. It improves the immune system, reduces the impact of illness and chronic disease. It enhances mobility, flexibility, and balance.

Regular activity can also help you fall asleep more quickly, sleep more deeply, and wake feeling more energetic and refreshed and even improves brain function.

Do we all want that? Of course. But does such exercise have to be as unstimulating as taking a walk or a swim? What about adding a competitive dimension? And then adding the benefit of comradeship and human interaction?

The good news is there are some great ways to keep fit while also having fun and engaging with others of the human race. And here come my top 6 – with a heavy bias to my favourite.

  1. Walking Football:
    This is about taking part in the beautiful game but at a slower pace. Though mostly for men, it’s not exclusively so.

    My introduction to Walking Football came two years ago as I hit my 77 year marker. I plucked up the courage to show my face, along with a friend, at the Elite centre of Premiership club Burnley.

    Wisely, they asked me to fill in a form with a lot of medical details. Then I was off – to discover a sport well within my capabilities, despite my years. And happy I needed no more kit than an old pair of trainers and a track suit, or shorts and a T-shirt.

    A 15-minute warm up with a crowd of guys and two women stretched muscles that hadn’t been used for some years. Then the rules were explained – no running, physical contact, no kicking the ball above head height.

    Divided into three teams of five to seven depending on how many turned up, we played a series of games. It might have only been at walking pace but it seemed fast and furious. It seems some people appear to walk faster than others.

    The next hour was exhilarating, wonderfully enjoyable and now part of my regular keep fit and live longer routine.

    But I was also to discover my Burnley colleagues and I were far from alone.

    From a standing start less than ten years ago, as an initiative to encourage more exercise among the over 50s, Walking Football has blossomed to where the UK as about 450 clubs – and rising. There are even teams across Europe and in America, Columbia and Mexico.

    To check it out and get even more of the flavour see the website of Walking Football.
  2. Walking Netball.
    This has done for netball what Walking Football has done for soccer. The original has been adapted and designed so anyone can play regardless of age or fitness level.

    One of its strengths is the memories that come flooding back for those who have played the active version in their younger years. And, of course, when a group of girls of any age get together there’s always some fun and laughter.

    To explore and find a team near you see the website of Walking Netball.
  3. Squash.
    Squash and old age are not necessarily mutually exclusive – as the fact that the National Squash Championships include an Over 80s category. It just means the emphasis moves from speed and power to placement and accuracy.

    This indoor racket sport gives the whole body a workout. Even those no longer in their prime can burn off an average of 500 calories within half an hour of playing.
  4. Golf.
    It’s probably true that golf caters for seniors more than any other sport – with the handicap system serving to keep a level playing field.

    On offer is a good walk in the fresh air – and the greater novice you are the further you walk. A muscle work out, thanks to carrying the clubs. And the need to think through ‘what next’ sharpens the mind.

    Then comes all the banter and friendship built round the 19th hole.
  5. Bowling.
    Bowling comes in a variety of guises – ten-pin, lawn and carpet for starters.

    All may look sedate but there’s great health benefits here. The heavy ball helps with improving balance and strength. And the activity increases balance and coordination.

    With a little Googling you should easily find a club with a seniors section.
  6. Pickleball
    You may never have heard of it but this racquet sport that manages to combine badminton, tennis and table tennis, is growing in popularity with those in later life.

    It’s played at a slower place, on a smaller court than tennis, and is easy to pick up.

    To know more see the website of Pickeball.

Take your pick from these 6 choices for fitness and fun or find an alternative of your own. But do get out there for a healthier and longer life.

And for more on health, fitness and managing your weight do see the wisdom from health and fitness guru Rosemary Conley on the AfterWorkNet website.

David Hall

Dave Hall spent his working life as a journalist on local newspapers, Christian magazines, and as a press officer. Married with two adult children – one living in Spain and the other close to his home near Burnley. At his village church Dave preaches and helps at Little Stars, the mums’ and toddlers’ group, and Messy Church.

What have you found as a way to keep fit and actually enjoy the experience? Please share here or with our Facebook Group.


  1. I am enthusiastic about keeping fit in the later years of life, however, this is assuming that one is in good health and does not suffer from impaired mobility or other debilitating conditions. For those who enjoy good health these suggestions and more are great ideas.

    I take the point that these pursuits are highlighted so that the social dimensions are enjoyed along with the exercise. Personally, I play ten-pin bowling once a week with a group in which four out of six of us are Christians but it was not planned in that way.

    Additionally, I enjoy athletic pursuits which started in 1976 by running, then dropping down to jogging for many years then at the suggestion of a doctor friend of mine, power walking. I do this alone. This gives all the exercise one needs without straining or putting pressure on joints and muscles. Having had my foot and gait digitally profiled I purchased some very good trainers so I can walk anything between 8 and 16 miles depending on the time available. I enjoy walking all kinds of routes from rural lanes to urban highways and I feel good afterwards.
    Walking football and Pickleball seem rather attractive pursuits as well. Although I never played organised football I used to play badminton so Pickleball sounds interesting. Squash I never quite got on with but to play it in later life does seem a bit risky as the temptation to “go for it” could have serious consequences. The main thing is to enjoy what keeps you fit.
    Keep moving.
    Graham Davis

  2. So glad you mentioned golf. I try to play twice a week even through the winter when you can stand on a tee at 8.00 in the morning freezing to death. Maybe we should have an Afterworknet golf weekend. I am, at this moment, sat in my caravan overlooking Trevose golf club in Cornwall. Good rates for weekend golfers and a brute of a course in wind. Golf is a great place for conversation you with 1/2/3 people for 4 hours. Not sure Dave mentioned walking (without football or netball). Many retireds go walking and it may be a good reason for meeting up with people – does it help with ‘the lonely’.

  3. As a former Inter-County cross country athlete at Senior level under AAA rules for my native Cumberland & Westmorland (1951-56) and fell-walker since Christian Endeavour introduced me to the Fells as an 11 year old in 1945 I value the emphasis placed on physical activity being promoted for my latter years. However, I’ll stick to walking and the Fells, whenever I can be accompanied, here in God’s own country of my native Cumberland, far from the madding crowds and sweating survivors!

  4. If you want to walk consider joining the Ramblers. There are groups all over the country. Walks vary and include leisurely or strenuous; circular or linear. Forget bobble hats and trousers tucked into boots! Many walkers are in the recently retired age group. http://www.ramblers.org.uk

  5. I took up indoor bowls last year and, after a few coaching sessions, I joined a local bowls club and now try to play friendly games at least once a week. Although at 66 I am probably one of the youngest playing there is a great sense of camaraderie and good humoured competition. What has been particularly encouraging is that there are people who play in wheelchairs, or who suffer from various levels of physical or mental impairments, including dementia, but who are still able to play to a reasonable standard.

  6. Great article by my good friend Dave Hall, we have a lot in common as I am also involved with a number of Seniors Activities at St Andrew’s Church in Leyland with Badminton, Table Tennis , Carpet Bowls & Walking Football as part our our Ministry of Sport Initative for our Local Community we are now looking into the possibility of offering a range of Dementia Friendly Sports Activities as part of our commitment to be a Dementia Friendly Church.

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The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years"

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife