With its varied climate and geography, Canada is the perfect place to experience some of the world’s most exciting sporting events.
For those who grew up to the sounds of Hockey Night in Canada, or the crack of a baseball and bat making contact on a hot summer afternoon, the soundtrack of youth included cheering crowds. That sound of pure excitement, and relief, when an athlete sticks the landing, crosses a finish line, breaks a record, or scores the game-winning goal.
Whether you’re a casual fan or a true fanatic, cheering for your team can bring highs and lows. There is also a growing body of evidence that suggests cheering has important health benefits.
Watching Sports Makes Older Adults Happier
For many people, rooting for a team can be the center of an active social life with other fans. Even complete strangers and people who barely know each other bond more quickly and exchange positive emotions because they follow the same team.
Feeling a part of something bigger than ourselves fosters a deeper connection that is important for senior well-being. For sports fans, the simple act of watching a game or wearing a team shirt can create opportunities to connect and form important social bonds. Maybe it’s a conversation in line at the concession stand, or a stranger giving you a high-five for wearing your gear out on the street. Whatever the reason, fandom is linked to higher levels of well-being and general happiness.
Even if you don’t watch a game with others, just knowing that you are part of a larger group has long-term effects.
Cheering for Your Team Is Good For Mental Health
There’s no better feeling than watching your favourite team come from behind and pull off an exciting victory! In fact, a study by Ohio State University found that fans experience a boost in self-esteem after watching their team win a big game – and it lasts two full days!
Beyond basking in your team’s success, the excitement of watching a game with others can be a great stress reliever . It can also build a more positive outlook in life. For older adults who watch sports frequently, this translates into better mood and fewer depressive symptoms.
Sports And Brain Health – Its Not Just A Game
Everyone loves to reminisce about moments of glory; and, the more dramatic a game, the more people reminisce. Whether it’s the Montreal Canadians winning their 5th consecutive Stanley Cup or Paul Henderson leading Team Canada to victory at the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union, most everyone remembers a dramatic sporting moment.
Games punctuated with surprise tap into a process in the brain that forges powerful memories.
For many older fans, whose memories of rooting for sports teams go all the way back to childhood or college days, the emotional memory (as opposed to factual memory), caused by re-living very tense or exciting moments, is thought to be particularly effective at boosting brain activity.
Watching or re-watching classic sporting events can therefore be used therapeutically for those experiencing cognitive decline. There is even an organization in the UK dedicated to fighting dementia, depression, and loneliness in older generations through the power of sport.
Fandom gives generations a common language
Being a fan of a sports team can deeply connect you to others across time, transcending generational barriers. Few grandparents are particularly interested in the latest computer games, and most grandchildren cannot relate to what it was like to live and work in years past. But cheering for the same team offers families a shared experience, shared language, and shared emotion that they might not find elsewhere.
Sometimes, this common language can even help seniors get more comfortable with new technology.
Seniors Prove That TikTok Isn’t Just For Millennials
@st.albertretirement It’s hockey night in Edmonton, the boys are back in town! @edmontonoilers #LetsGoOilers #hockeyplayoffs #NHL #Oilers ♬ original sound – sa-recreation
Older adults at St. Albert seniors residence recently took to social media in support of the Edmonton Oilers during the Stanley Cup playoffs, including the Battle of Alberta. In a move that shocked and delighted their children and grandchildren, retirees living at the residence dressed up in jerseys and wigs for a series of entertaining TikTok videos.
Striking a chord with sports fans everywhere – they received more than 200,000 likes on one video – the elderly stars, mostly in their 80s and 90s, were featured by news outlets across the country, including CTV and CBC. They even made the Globe and Mail Sports Section!
In a show of national pride, residents at Summit Heights retirement home Hamilton jumped on the bandwagon, creating their own videos for the playoffs. After their beloved Toronto Maple Leafs were defeated in the Atlantic Division finals, the seniors threw their cheering power behind their sister residence’s favourite team.
To join in on the fun, click on the TikTok link – a new video will be posted each day that the Oilers have a game in the playoffs.
Get the Competitive Edge on Game Day
Research suggest that watching physical activity being performed stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, the same system that’s activated when you’re actually exercising.
Does this mean that you can watch sports all day and become just as fit as Labron James or Serena Williams? No. But watching the Stanley Cup or your favourite baseball team can motivate you to ramp up your workout or give you a motivational boost to get active.
Entering the golden years and beyond, seniors at All Seniors Care Living Centres consistently prove that retirement is not a static experience. It is one in which they can continue to enrich themselves in various ways, using free time to take part in any number of activities, including sports!
One of the first things you will learn about our senior housing options is that we love an active, motivating calendar. Physical and social activities like cheering for our favourite teams or participating in the upcoming ASC Senior Games are important qualities to look for when searching assisted living in Sherwood Park, or retirement apartments in Ottawa.
Call us anytime to arrange a tour at a senior retirement residence near you.
Writer – Julianna McLeod
Julianna is a health and wellness expert at All Seniors Care. Her mission is to create content that empowers seniors to form sustainable solutions for lasting health and happiness. She is an experienced writer, editor, and Recreational Therapist living in Toronto.