Warmer weather and longer days provide more opportunities for physical activity. Whether you walk, run, garden, bike, or swim, physical activity is important for all ages. May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. It’s a good time to focus on the fitness activities of older adults. How can you encourage activity and fellowship among your group members – and have some fun in the process? Here are some suggestions to get your group moving and interacting.

Let’s begin with a few activities to stir up some nostalgic exercise and sports memories.

  • Exercise muscles with some laughter. Play the legendary Abbott and Costello baseball comedy sketch, “Who’s on First?” – first heard on Kate Smith’s radio show in the late 1930s. Serve a baseball snack, like soft pretzels with cheese and mustard or mini- corn dogs with Coke. Reminisce about the game from the perspective of a player, coach, or spectator.
  • List action verbs related to physical activity, exercise, or sports, e.g., walk, run, bike, dance, stretch, jog, or bowl. Ask: Did you ever dance for physical fitness? Show us some of your best footwork.
  • Reminisce about games you played as a kid in your backyard or at school, e.g., Red Light/Green Light, Kick the Can, Red Rover. Ask: What do you remember about the rules or rhymes? Which games required the most movement?
  • Share recollections of field days at school (also known as “sports day”). Ask: Did you ever participate in an egg and spoon race, sack race, three-legged race, tug-of-war, or fifty-yard dash? Did your class receive a prize or trophy?
  • Sing some popular sports songs. Suggestions: “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” “Heart” (from the musical Damn Yankees), “Notre Dame Victory Song,” or other college fight songs.
  • Ask participants to name their favorite individual sports, e.g., bicycling, golf, tennis, swimming, or horseshoes. Ask: Which sport activity did you like to play as a child or teen? Did you develop a passion for a particular sport – for example, running – as an adult?
  • Share memories of day-to-day physical activities in your family (e.g., running the vacuum, gardening, washing the car, mowing the lawn). Ask: Has technology helped or hurt family fitness? How did you build exercise into your daily routine?
  • Reminisce about participating in youth team sports in high school or college. Ask: What did you learn about teamwork, sportsmanship, or competition? What life lessons did you learn from playing team sports? Wave a team pennant, sing a fight song, or wear a team hat.
  • Ask group members if they ever participated in a charity event, in which they ran, walked, biked, or bowled to raise money for a special cause. Describe the experience.
  • Define the word athlete. Ask: Did you ever consider yourself an athlete? When? Are great athletes made (with lots of special skills training) or born (with natural talent)?
  • Sample some wellness foods, like seasonal berries or other fresh fruit.
  • Watch a favorite sports movie, e.g., Chariots of Fire, The Pride of the Yankees, or The Boys of Summer, the Brooklyn Dodgers.
  • Share memories of group fitness activities, such as joining an exercise class or health club, playing intramural sports, or participating in a sports and recreation program at the YMCA. Ask: What are the advantages of exercising with family and friends? Did you enjoy meeting new people?
  • Reminisce about attending a big sports event, like the Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby, World Series, Rose Bowl, or Olympic Games. Ask: Did you ever have the opportunity to witness a major sporting event, like a playoff or championship game? Describe the experience.
  • Share experiences of participating in sports activities with children, either as a coach, recreational sports program volunteer, or Scout leader.


Calling all sports fans! What makes a player legendary (length of career, Hall of Fame, accomplishments)? Rekindle sports memories about the following legends. A few clues about each are provided.

  1. Michael Jordan – basketball player, Chicago Bulls
  2. Babe Ruth – baseball player, New York Yankees
  3. Jim Brown – football player, Cleveland Browns
  4. Muhammad Ali – heavyweight boxing champion
  5. Jesse Owens – track and field, Olympic gold medalist
  6. Jim Thorpe – track and field, Olympic gold medalist, football, baseball
  7. Mildred “Babe” Didrikson – professional golfer, basketball, track and field, Olympic gold medalist
  8. Billie Jean King – tennis champion, Wimbledon
  9. Arnold Palmer – golf champion, PGA titles
  10. Bobby Orr – hockey legend, Stanley Cup, Hall of Fame

“FITNESS MONTH” written by Sue Hansen. © 2008 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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