You already know that exercise offers numerous benefits to seniors, including improving your heart health, better flexibility and stronger muscles. Plus, exercise can help lower the risk of injury and enhance our mood and mental acuity.
An exercise that is especially beneficial to seniors is swimming. Water exercises allow the elderly a way to get in better shape without putting added stress or strain on the body.
Health Benefits of Swimming for Seniors
Swimming is an ideal workout for the elderly, mainly because it presents little risk of injury and is low impact. Water exercises work out all the muscle groups in the body, presenting a complete workout for seniors. Here are just a few of the health benefits swimming offers to older adults:
- Improves heart health. Swimming makes your heart stronger, larger and improves your cardiovascular health and endurance. It will also lower your blood pressure, improve your circulation and help reduce the risk of heart and lung disease.
- Gentle on the joints. Because swimming is not weight-bearing, it’s easy on the joints for those who suffer from joint pain and discomfort. It’s a full-body workout that keeps the pressure off your hips, knees and spine.
- Reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Swimming can improve bone mineral density (BMD), which will help fight osteoporosis. This is very important especially for women; a third of women over the age of 50 and a fifth of men experience a bone fracture due to osteoporosis.
- Increases flexibility. While stretching before and after exercising is a sure way to regain flexibility, the act of swimming itself can also help increase your flexibility in your hips, legs, arm and neck. It can also help improve your posture and alleviate back pain.
- Improve muscle strength and tone. Every time you move in the water, you’re putting every muscle group to work. Swimming is a great form of resistance training and can help improve your muscle strength- and you’ll also see long, lean muscle tone forming the more you do it!
- Boosts mental health. Swimming is a great way to reduce your stress levels, boost your mood, and increase your brain function. Plus, because swimming can be a social activity, you’ll avoid the feelings of social isolation and loneliness that can lead to depression in seniors.
Types of Water Exercises
There are four basic types of water exercises those of all ages can enjoy. Water aerobics is offered at many local gyms and fitness centers and are usually tailored to seniors. These usually entail water walking, dancing and other aerobic exercises that resemble classes on land.
Basic swimming is also one of the most beneficial forms of physical activity for seniors. If you’re a little rusty on your technique, sign up for a class and in no time at all you’ll be able to work your way up to swimming for thirty minutes at a stretch.
There are also water resistance exercises, like doing arm curls, leg swings and calf raises, all while in the pool. Instead of standard strength training equipment like weights, the water will act as resistance.
Finally, water relaxation exercises can also assist with lowering heart rate, blood pressure and stress. Aqua yoga and Pilates are common water relaxation methods used in senior swimming classes.
Improve your quality of life by hitting your local pool! As with any new exercise routine, make sure you consult your doctor before you start.
For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com.