Retirement can be the best time of your life — but only if you do it right. Keep reading to learn how joining a local sports league can help you make the most of this time by socializing, investing in your health, and renewing your sense of purpose.
Get Out and Socialize
Many people form a strong network of friends in their workplace, and rely on it for much of their social interaction. Once you’re no longer seeing those people every day, maintaining those relationships becomes more difficult. The result is loneliness: According to a 2012 study by the University of California, 43 percent of the older adults surveyed felt lonely, even though only 18 percent of these individuals lived alone. And this sense of isolation can have serious consequences, such as an increased risk of mortality, poor physical and mental health, cognitive decline, and depression.
Sports leagues give retirees the opportunity to get out of the house and engage with teammates on a regular basis, in an activity that they actually enjoy. Making new friends is easy when you’re seeing the same people consistently, and these friendships could easily lead to doing things together outside of practice and games.
Exercise Your Body and Mind
No matter which sport you choose, it’s going to get you moving and your heart pumping, which will benefit you both physically and mentally. Exercise has been shown to:
- Decrease risk of falling, increasing your likelihood of being able to age in place.
- Reduce risk of developing diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, and coronary heart disease.
- Lower blood pressure for those with hypertension.
- Improve stamina and muscle strength for those with chronic and disabling conditions.
- Maintain healthy joints, muscles, and bones.
- Manage pain and joint swelling due to arthritis.
Exercise can also improve mood, increase your sense of well-being, and counteract anxiety and depression, making for a happier and healthier mental outlook.
Renew Your Sense of Purpose
Retirees who are used to having a regular schedule may have difficulties figuring out how to fill their time, or feel like their days lack purpose without work to finish or targets to meet. Team sports can supply that purpose. Practices and games will provide a much-needed routine and a constant change of scenery, and being part of a team provides a sense of responsibility: You have to carry your own weight, both literally and figuratively. This responsibility spurs personal development and goals, which add meaning to your life.
Seeing all of this hard work pay off is one of the reasons that participating in sports improves your self-esteem and self-confidence.