Written by Annie Laskey, Events Director, Pasadena Senior Center
Staying active is important. It is undeniable that physical exercise is good for your body and helps keep you healthy. But there is another reason to keep moving: exercise is famously good as a mood lifter because activity can give you a boost of endorphins. Feeling cranky? That PSC Zumba class will cheer you up! Depressed? Go for a walk!
As these long, dull, isolated days drag on, the need for activity – and the emotional shot in the arm it can give you – is more important than ever. But it can be hard to force yourself to do jumping jacks every morning. Competition (aka Sports) can be a great motivator because the more you train, the better you get, and the more likely you are to win (or at least get a personal best). But I’ve never played sports and looking to start during a pandemic is odd timing, to say the least.
My job as Director of Events includes managing the Pasadena Senior Games, part of a nationwide network of competitions for athletes age 50+. It can be intoxicating just watching these wonderful athletes compete, so for the past several years I’ve been promising myself that I would take up a sport. This year I’d decided I’d enter the swim competition, but our Pasadena Senior Games were canceled due to COVID, and I never even got to the pool to start training.
Last year, the National Senior Games Association announced they were adding Cornhole to the list of sports contested at Nationals. Yes, that carnival game of throwing a beanbag into a hole. I laughed when I heard, thinking, “that’s no sport, that’s a game!” Of course, I had never played it. A few months ago, Carolyn Zorn, a longtime PSC Volunteer as well as the Center’s mail-lady and now a dear friend, lent me her Cornhole Toss set. It seemed like a good diversion for Dad and I during lockdown. I finally got it set up last week, and now I’m hooked.
Physical, oh yes. Lobbing those heavy beanbags (I’m not joking here! They weigh 1lb each!) is good for the arms. Walking back and forth from one end of the court to the other on the way to a 21 point victory can take a lot of steps (a regulation court is 27 feet). Bending over to pick up all those bean bags makes up for not doing toe touches in morning calisthenics.
And then there is the incentive of competition. It turns out my 92 year-old dad is much more adept at pitching bags than I am. He beat me easily in three straight sets the first time we played. Guess there is more skill involved than I thought! So now when I am tired and cranky from sitting at the computer for too long, I have an instant antidote: just run outside and play. I can get a workout, hone my skills, and lift my mood all at once. Game on!