By Ken Reed
America is a sports-crazed nation in one way: spectatorship. We love watching sports a lot more than participating in them. After the age of 13, there’s a big drop in sports participation. After the age of 18, there’s another big drop. For most people, when they give up participating in sports, they also begin spending less time exercising overall. Most Americans continue to exercise less and less as they age.
The not-so-pretty big picture is that only one in five American adults exercises enough based on federal guidelines, only one in six of adults in their mid-50’s, and only one in seven after age 65.
But seniors are beginning to turn that trend on its head.
The percentage of those over 65 exercising at the recommended rate has been on the rise since 1998, when only six percent of Americans over 65 met the federal levels for exercise (at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, plus muscle-building activity at least twice a week). By 2011, when the most recent study was done, 16 percent of the 65+ set were getting enough exercise from sports and other activities. Many seniors are choosing endurance sports like swimming, running and cycling — often participating in competitive events. Masters swimming, diving, and track and field programs are gaining in popularity every year. Senior Olympics-type events are on the rise. Seniors are discovering there’s no reason that they can’t keep participating in sports long after they’ve added an AARP card to their wallets.
Diana Nyad, at 64, recently became the first person to complete a 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. In doing so, she inspired other baby boomers to get moving.
“She just didn’t give up, she was determined to do it,” said 63-year-old Greg Cooke. “I’m thinking, ‘All right, I can’t let these little aches and pains hold me back; there’s things to do and I’m going to get out there and do them.'”
And when looking for something to do, why not pick a sport to participate in for your exercise? It sure beats running on a treadmill.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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