You don’t have to be a marathon runner or spend all your time in a gym to get exercise. Simple swimming exercises, developed specifically for older adults, make it fun and easy to stay active!
Swimming is an excellent workout option that promotes active senior living without putting stress upon the body. From building muscle to strengthening bones to improving balance, exercising in a pool is an easy and efficient way to continue staying physically active and maintaining senior independence. Here are a few tips on why swimming is beneficial to seniors, as well as some pointers on specific exercises to try in the water:
Why swimming helps
There have been numerous studies focusing on the health benefits swimming can specifically provide seniors. One study published in the Journal of Nutrition Health and Aging analyzed how swimming can help increase hand-eye coordination as well as balance. After testing 20 seniors who regularly swam compared to other healthy subjects who didn’t swim as their main source of exercise, the swimmers were found to have better and faster hand-eye coordination and improved balance function. Additional studies have shown that swimming can work to lower blood pressure in elderly individuals, and may also help improve your overall cognitive ability.
Types of exercises
Many people think your workout is limited in the pool to just swimming laps, but that simply isn’t the case. There are a wide variety of exercises that can be adapted in the water, that don’t require learning the backstroke.
- Leg swings: For an easy exercise, try standing near the edge of the pool, with the water at least reaching up to your lower back. Stand up straight and swing your legs in front as far as you can, rotating them each time. Hold each leg out for at least five seconds, then repeat with the other one. After you’ve done about five to 10 reps of kicking out forward, try switching it up by swinging your legs backward as well.
- Arm circles: Head over to an area of the pool where the water reaches your neck as you stand, but make sure you’re near the edge in case of an emergency. Raise your arms up to your sides so they’re just below the water’s surface, and with your arms straight out and palms facing down, move them in circular motions. You should continue spinning them in the same direction for at least 10 seconds before switching to the other direction. You’ll also want to start out with smaller circle motions, expanding them after every time count to help increase your overall range of motion.
- Water yoga: While it’s been well documented how yoga may help improve the quality of life for many seniors, practicing poses and stretching exercises in the water can be just as effective (and more fun). You can find plenty of water yoga classes at your local recreation center, plus there are always a number of other water aerobic workouts you can sign up for in the community pool, such as Pilates and tai chi.
Of course, any new exercise regime should be discussed with your doctor. But next time you are at the pool, you may be able to get a good workout in!