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Unique Recreation Programs for Seniors and Where to Find Them

Kimberly Fowler
By Kimberly FowlerFebruary 21, 2018

Fitness for seniors has been a health trend for the past decade, but baby boomers today are shifting the focus to include unique recreation programs geared specifically to them.

Unique Recreation Programs for Seniors

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has released their 12th annual “Top 20 Fitness Trends” list and once again, fitness programs for older adults has topped the list at number nine.


Check out these five unique recreation programs that are geared towards older adults:

1. Cardio Drumming

Cardio drumming programs, such as Drums Alive! and DrumFIT are fun and easy to learn – yet physically challenging – and are suitable for participants of all fitness levels. All you need are drumsticks, a yoga ball and a willingness to try something new! Drums Alive! is especially senior-focused; all of the choreography is adaptable and can be done from a seated position. Plus, the music has a “100% sing-along guarantee” featuring the greatest hits from the 60s and 70s. DrumFIT offers “specially choreographed routines that mix high and low-intensity exercises to build muscle and burn calories while you beat out some sweet rhythms and grin your way to a fit body.”

Benefits of cardio drumming include:

  • Improved balance, coordination and flexibility
  • Increased energy and focus
  • Muscle conditioning and strengthening
  • Positive mental health

Cardio drumming programs are offered across North America – check out your local fitness club or senior center to find one near you.

2. Crawling

Crawling is a strange new fitness phenomenon that encourages participants to go back to basics – literally! Crawling has been referred to by Health.com as “the ultimate total body exercise” and can be performed with multiple variations, including (but not limited to) on your hands and knees, on your hands and toes or in a crab crawl.

Crawling is considered a functional exercise, meaning it builds strength for real life and improves your ability to perform daily activities. Functional fitness is especially important for seniors because it teaches them exercises to promote balance, coordination and strength that will help them to stay safe and independent in their own home.

Although a little unconventional, crawling should not be written off as a passing fitness fad. According to Health.com, it is “a return to some of the most fundamental fitness patterns” and engages our muscles in the most natural ways. Crawling offers a full body workout and strengthens core muscle groups, including:

  • Abdomen
  • Calves
  • Feet
  • Glutes
  • Hips
  • Quads
  • Shoulders

Crawling requires no equipment and can be done anywhere.

3. Disc (or Frisbee) Golf

Disc golf – also known as Frisbee golf – offers a new twist on the game of golf, where participants ‘tee off’ by throwing a Frisbee across a course, rather than swinging a club and hitting a golf ball. This is a fun-filled sport that is family oriented, easy to learn and suitable for all ages.

Disc golf is:

  • Accessible: Participants can often walk, use an assistive device such as a walker or wheelchair, or ride in a golf cart to get around the course
  • Healthy: Disc golf promotes both mental and physical wellness
  • Inexpensive: League fees are low and equipment is not costly – you just need a Frisbee!
  • Played outside: Enjoy the fresh air and great outdoors while staying active
  • Social: You can join a league or simply head out to a course with family or friends

Perhaps the best part about disc golf is that it is popular all over North America. Many public parks have disc golf courses set up, or you can join a formal league. The Professional Disc Golf Association has information on how to join a sanctioned league in your area – or how to start your own!

4. Floor Curling

Like disc golf, floor curling offers a new spin on a traditional sport. Floor curling can be played anywhere that has a hard surface, with minimal equipment that is lightweight and can be set up in minutes – making it a perfect sport for senior complexes. Floor curling has the same rules and positions as traditional curling, with one major difference – there is no ice! Without a hazardous, slippery playing surface, floor curling is safe for everyone. Speaking of accessibility, the sport of floor curling was designed to “allow participants of all abilities to compete on a level playing field” and can be played from a seated position, or with the use of assistive devices such as pusher sticks (for those who cannot bend to floor level). Floor curling is a fantastic physical workout and promotes:

  • Circulation
  • Flexibility
  • Muscle stretching and strengthening
  • Range of motion

Floor curling is also offered at community centers and fitness clubs across Canada and the United States.

5. Unique Forms of Yoga

Yoga is an ancient practice that has evolved over time and offers fantastic mental and physical health benefits for seniorsVive Health references a 2015 study that found yoga can decrease pain, improve mobility, mood and overall health in older adults. Yoga also has been found to:

  • Boost brain function and cognitive ability
  • Improve lung function
  • Increase muscle and bone strength
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce insomnia and improve sleep
  • Reduce symptoms of arthritis

Gentle and restorative yoga are the most popular styles for seniors and can be practiced in your own home, fitness clubs, senior centres or yoga studios. However, if you want to step out of your comfort zone, try these different yoga practices:

  1. Anti-gravity yoga: Also known as “aerial yoga,” this form of yoga combines traditional yoga poses with the use of a hammock for support. Older adults who have back pain may find this form of yoga therapeutic.
  2. Goat yoga: Goat yoga may not be easy to find in your city, but if you live in a rural area you may be in luck. According to CNN, it’s a popular form of yoga practiced in the same environment as goats, who may give you the occasional snuggle if you’re lucky. The idea here is that participants can enjoy the mental benefits that come with spending time with animals while performing yoga in a rural setting.
  3. Laughter yoga: Also called “Hasyayoga,” laughter yoga is based on the belief that laughter has great mental and physical benefits for the body.
  4. Water yoga: Yoga done in water is a great way to vary your practice while reducing stress on your joints.

From crawling to drumming, if you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something new, then consider exploring one of these unique activities. Who knows, you may find a new passion or meet new people along the way.

What unique recreation programs have you come across? We’d like to hear more about your experiences in the comments below.

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Kimberly Fowler
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Kimberly Fowler
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