Why seniors and people with mobility issues should add aquatic activities to their regular routine.
Everybody, into the pool. You have probably already heard that exercise will keep you young. It’s no surprise, but a study in Preventative Medicine shows that US adults that regularly participate in high levels of physical activity showed significantly reduced cellular aging, taking up to 9 years off of their biological age. So they aren’t just living longer, they are living better longer.
Water is Your Friend
In last week’s post, we talked about the many benefits of staying physically active as you age. We also noticed that in the lists of excellent ways to get moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise, aquatic activities appeared in both lists.
8 Amazing Reasons Swimming is the Best Exercise for Seniors
- Less Joint Stress. Being in the water removes the effects of gravity on the body, lessening or removing stress on joints. The activity and cooling effects of the water can help relieve join pain, arthritis symptoms, and other chronic pain. Which means…
- Longer Workout Times. Without added pain, many seniors find they can participate in longer than usual physical activity, which means they can benefit even more from the workout.
- Excellent for Recovery. Swimming and water activities are considered excellent low-impact aerobic exercise that many physio-therapists will recommend for patient’s recovering from injury, heart surgery, hip replacement surgery, and strokes. It is highly recommended as ongoing therapy for those with MS, and other conditions where balance issues often limit the ability to do other forms of exercise.
- Prevent Falls. Exercise in water that is at least waist-high helps to prevent falls, by improving balance and coordination as you fight the motion of the water. Swimming helps develop and strengthen core muscles needed for balance and control.
- Decrease Risk for Heart Disease. Aquatic exercise is a great cardio workout that increases your heart rate and improves your cardiovascular health. This burns fat, can lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and decrease the risk of heart disease.
- Improved Mobility. Even those with limited mobility will see improvements with regular water activities. Moving limbs through water is good resistance training, especially for those that struggle with using weights. Any resistance training improves strength, bone density, and flexibility helping to slow down age-related loss of muscle mass.
- Whole Body Workout. Whether you are swimming laps, taking a water-aerobics class, or just treading water, you can work the whole body at once, and get the cardio exercise that can increase metabolism, and agility and improve overall health.
- Better Mental Health. Vigorous exercise has been known to decrease both depression and anxiety. Also, attending water-aerobic classes is a great social activity, and participating in group activities helps fend off loneliness and isolation.
- Accessibility. Swimming is available year round in community pools. People of almost all abilities and conditions can benefit from swimming, if doctors recommend it. Even those who are not strong swimmers can find lots of shallow end activities and classes, using flotation devices. Many classes use kick boards, foam barbels, pool noodles and other equipment to add buoyancy, resistance and fun to classes. The 2010 ADA Standards introduced requirements to make sure swimming pools in public facilities would be accessible to anyone including those in a wheelchair. Which means public swimming pools are supposed to have at least one accessible point of entry. This could be a ramp or a pool lift.
If you want to add swimming to your regular routine to stay healthy, active and young, we recommend checking with your doctor first, then find out where the closest pool is, and see what programs or swim times they have available.
I tried Aqua Fin classes last year and loved it. Adding swim fins to a lane swim made me feel like an Olympic swimmer I was moving so fast. Let us know what your favorite pool activity is.