Swimming and other water activities are great exercises for seniors. Water supports your body, so there is less stress on your joints.
Exercising in water strengthens your cardiovascular system, improves balance, and reduces the risk of injury. In addition, it improves your sleep and makes you feel more relaxed.
As we age, joints become stiffer and more rigid. Water allows us to move more freely and ease that stiffness. Anyone of any physical ability can exercise in water because it is a simple, non-weight-bearing exercise.
5 Benefits of Water Exercise for Seniors
1. Less Stress on Your Joints
As we age, joints become stiffer and more rigid. Low-impact exercises are ideal for aging joints and for joint pain.
Swimming is a low-impact exercise, as water supports your body. There is less stress on your bones and joints.
As water supports your body, it allows you to move more freely and ease that stiffness. With this full-body workout, you are not stressing your hips, knees, and spine.
2. Swimming Provides Muscle Strength and Balance
Any physical activity will improve your balance, but water provides natural resistance to your body. Water exercise improves your muscle strength, balance, coordination, and body control.
Swimming and other water-based exercise use all muscle groups, including your core muscles, which improves your endurance.
3. Lower Risk of Falls
With stronger muscles and better balance, you are less likely to fall. Because of the balance that you create in the water, you have a lower risk of falling.
By balancing your body and coordinating upper and lower body parts to work together, you are teaching your mind to control your body – a skill that translates to on land as well.
A study of 1,700 Australian men at age 70 and older found that those who regularly swim were 33 percent less likely to suffer a fall during their daily activities (study: why swimming has big benefits).
4. Swimming Improves Your Sleep
Besides making you tired, swimming can also help you sleep by reducing stress. Swimming sessions often leave swimmers feeling relaxed and happier afterwards. Whether you are stressed, swimming is likely to lift your spirits.
5. Healthy Heart for Older Adults
Water aerobic exercise has an impressive effect on the blood pressure and heart health and rate of people over 60 years old. Even one workout in the pool can help reduce blood pressure and increase circulation.
A swimming workout develops your cardiovascular system, which works for you in everyday life as well. You’ll have better endurance and muscle strength to regulate blood pressure on all sides of the heart with greater ease than ever before.
What Types of Water Activities Can I Do?
Here are the types of water exercises you can do in addition to basic swimming. Remember to stay safe: avoid doing water activities alone, ask your doctor how your medications and fitness interplay, and be aware of your limits.
1. Basic Swimming
Seniors benefit greatly from basic swimming. Aim to swim for half an hour straight. Consider taking a swimming lesson if your technique is not up to date.
2. Aqua Jogging
With aqua jogging, you will get your heart pumping and your blood flowing throughout your body while burning calories at a low impact. Moving through the water helps you breathe and improves your strength.
3. Water Walking
Water walking is just like walking on land, but in water and with the added benefit of exercise due to increased buoyancy.
With the added options of extending a stride and “walking” sideways, this is an excellent exercise for people with arthritis or other joint issues. Those make it difficult to walk without bending from the waist in land walking.
4. Water Cycling
This exercise combines both aerobic and aquatic movements. You use your legs to pedal a stationary bicycle underwater. By using your leg muscles, you burn calories and strengthen your heart and lungs.
5. Water Yoga
Water yoga is just like yoga on land, only in water. It’s a great way to stretch and relax your body. Burning calories, strengthening muscles, and improving flexibility are all benefits of this exercise.
6. Water Aerobics
Aerobic exercise is an activity that raises your heart rate and increases oxygen flow throughout your body. This type of exercise helps strengthen your lungs, heart, and circulatory system. There are many types of water aerobics exercise classes available at local YMCAs, senior centers, and community pools.
7. Water Stretching
Water stretching is just like stretching on land, but in water. It is an excellent exercise for an elderly person to loosen tight muscles and increase flexibility.
Tips for beginners
1) Consult your doctor
Check your medical condition as exercising in water pumps your heart much faster than you think
2) Start your exercises by warming up
If you want to get your blood flowing, water walk or use a kickboard as a warm-up
3) Rest when needed
You do not feel the heat or sweat because you are in the water. You might not realize just how much you are pushing your body, so listen to it.
4) Regular exercise, 2 to 3 times per week
2-3 times a week is enough to get the health benefits.
Even though water exercise is effective, it is gentle. It does not strain the joints in the same way as moving on land, so it’s also a good choice for people recovering from an injury or with limited mobility.
Consider water aerobics classes held at the local senior centers if you can’t swim.
I would say yes to water exercises, if you have access to a pool or a lake nearby. It’s also one of the most enjoyable forms of exercise there is!
If you want to, you can use the water’s resistance to make the gym highly effective, so even an active individual can get a good workout.