We all have a competitive spirit inside of us. It wakes us up in the morning so we can tackle the day. It motivates us to put that swimsuit on and go for a swim. It reminds us daily to get out of the chair and go for a walk. The competitive spirit in America has made our country one of the best in the world.

As we get older, we have to continue to listen to that competitive spirit within us. To keep that competition alive, many older adults participate in lower level competitive sports into their 80's and 90's through the Senior Olympics. There are many sports to consider playing but before you do, here are some recommendations from the fitness trainer.

  • Build a base level of aerobic and muscular fitness to prepare your body to meet the physical demands of the sport. You'll start to see more progression and improvements with consistent training.
  • Consistency is the most important part of fitness. Our body thrives on regular daily movement. So be sure to train frequently.
  • Progress moderately through your training. For example, if you're comfortable swimming laps for 15 minutes, then try increasing the time to 20 minutes to make progress. Don't jump from 15 minutes to 30 minutes or your body may not be ready for it and you'll see negative consequences such as an injury or even an overworking forcing you to rest and breaking up your consistent training schedule.
  • Make time for rest. As we get older, we don't recover as quickly. We need to balance our training time with rest and recovery time. Adequate recovery time helps to prevent overtraining injuries and allows progressive improvements.
  • Acknowledge the signs of too much exercise. Our body is great at telling us something is wrong. We have to listen to our body. Pain is not what we should be striving for when we're exercising. A point of pleasurable discomfort or soreness maybe, but not pain.
  • Train appropriately for the aches and pains. For example, if you suffer from lower body joint pain then running in a warm water pool may be the place for you to cross train to stay fit so you can play tennis or pickleball and not give up the sport you love.
  • Hydrate yourself. As we get older, our body does not alert us about being dehydrated and thirsty like it alerted us when we were younger. Dehydration decreases our fitness levels. When fitness training, hydrate before, during and after the workout. Learn to like water again. There are too many fitness drinks being consumed today with sugar, caffeine and added vitamins. We don't need them. We need good, clean spring water daily.
  • Don't underestimate your potential. Set goals and work hard to achieve them. The human body is an incredible machine if we train it properly. Be wise with your training and competitions though. Sometimes you need to compete less to compete better.

Wake up your competitive spirit. Use it wisely and use it to keep yourself healthy and in the game of life. Here's to your commitment to good health.

About the author: Jonathan Souder is the fitness director at Manor House, an ACTS Retirement-Life Community in Seaford. Email your thoughts to jsouder@actslife.org.