Whether it involved a ball, bat, racquet, or just your body, Physical Education classes exposed us to the wonders of exercise and helped equip us with life skills that stay on forever.

If you’re as ancient as me, you’d remember playing catching, monkey, four corners and rounders.

Yes, there was the screaming, falling, crying and playful hitting, but these games constantly left me on a high, especially if my team won.

Sports enable people to develop social, competitive and leadership skills.

Children learn to positively handle both the winning and losing aspect of playing a sport, and good sportsmanship is a trait that carries over from childhood to adulthood.

The more sports-inclined would have gone further to better their skills, but for most people, their engagement in sports terminates once they leave secondary school, which is a shame.

The vagaries of life take over and we forget to have sweaty fun.

As we age, it becomes imperative to remain active physically and mentally to stay healthy and independent.

You don’t want to end up paying a high price for inactivity with increased rates of falls, heart disease, obesity, and even early death.

Many of those past 50 (even 40) hold on to this distorted belief that they’re too old to indulge in a type of sport. Even among my editorial colleagues, it took a mammoth effort to find four persons to form a bowling team earlier this year.

The older, hyperopic ones sat glued to their chairs, disinterested in the subject discussed, while the strawberry generation politely smiled and gave a ton of excuses.

No amount of cajoling or bribes could entice them to take part in the annual inter-office, friendly tournament.

It would have taken no more than three hours of their precious time, but there were absolutely no takers. Or maybe they just didn’t like my company. Gobsmacked, I eventually gave up trying.

Many studies show that maintaining some form of physical activity may postpone some of the negative consequences of growing older. Photo: Reuters

Likewise, squash is a game I love playing, but it’s hard to find a regular mate. My previous partners are too strapped with work, riding high in their careers, or complaining of shoulder and knee pain, so my playing days have been shelved temporarily.

Last week, I met a friend who is in his 50s and plays football in a senior league in Australia.

He sports a beer belly no less, but his sheer passion for the sport sees him at the field at least three times a week.

His children know dad is off for a game when the whole house stinks of pain balms and potions.

Although pain makes us uncomfortable, it has a very important protective function as it is part of the body’s self-defence mechanism.

When we experience pain, it is a sign that something is amiss.

It is nature’s way of telling us to pay attention to a particular part of the body to avoid further injury.

So my friend slathers on the gel to warm his muscles before heading out.

Never mind that he experiences the typical fatigue and soreness after a match. He finds such joy in the sport that pain has become secondary.

His group has become such a force to be reckoned that they now travel all over Australia to play!

Oh, he resumed playing only a decade ago, so age is immaterial, he says, if you truly enjoy something. What an inspiration!

Many studies show that maintaining some form of physical activity may postpone some of the negative consequences of growing older. And, there is nothing greater than revisiting the sport you enjoyed in your youth.

To encourage Malaysians to get up and be active, the government has declared the second Saturday of every October as National Sports Day.

An initiative by the Youth and Sports Ministry, the event is a proactive measure in transforming Malaysia into a sporting nation and developing sports as a way of life and culture among our citizens.

While we all have different abilities and fitness levels, the thrill and camaraderie that comes from playing team sports leaves more than a smile on the face.

At an older age, you may not be able to partake in aggressive or contact team sports as these pose a higher risk for injuries, but you can still participate by toning down the intensity.

It’s not about competing (though wins can boost your self-esteem), how you look nor being the best – it’s about how you feel by reconnecting with your body and rediscovering the fun in sports.

It is a proven fact that movement makes us happier, more resistant to stress and more self-confident. Y

ou’d hardly meet a grumpy person in a team sport.

Take it slow, as John Legend sings in Ordinary People. Since the golden oldies are the group mostly consuming prescription drugs, it can affect exercise tolerance.

For example, beta blockers may slow down the heartbeat, lower blood pressure and cause drowsiness, which then limits the capacity to exercise.

If you have a health condition and are unsure about the types and amounts of physical activity most appropriate for you, get clearance from the doctor.


Revathi Murugappan is a certified fitness trainer who tries to battle gravity and continues to dance to express herself artistically and nourish her soul. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.