Exercise is important at any age, but as people grow older, it becomes even more crucial. Seniors who exercise reap the benefits of improved health, strengthening not only their muscles but also their hearts and minds. Unfortunately, exercising can sometimes be difficult for senior citizens because many suffer from chronic pain, have limited mobility, or have trouble with balance, which can raise the risk of a fall. What’s the solution? Swimming! The benefits of swimming for seniors are numerous, and swimming is an exercise that just about anyone can do. Read on to learn more.
- Regularly swimming improves a person’s cardiovascular health. Swimming can help reduce high blood pressure and may even help relieve the arterial stiffness that causes problems like heart attack and stroke. When you swim, your heart gets stronger, and your endurance improves. Swimming also improves circulation and can help lower your risk of heart and lung disease.
- Swimming is easy on the joints. While swimming is an aerobic activity that offers a great cardiovascular workout, it’s also not weight-bearing. This makes them gentle on your joints and is a boon for those who suffer from joint pain. When you swim, you get a full-body workout without putting stress or pressure on your hips, knees, and spine.
- You can reduce your risk of osteoporosis by swimming. One third of women over 50, along with one fifth of men in that age range, suffer a bone fracture because of osteoporosis. Exercise can help build your bones as well as your muscles, and strengthening your bones is extremely important as you get older. Swimming, in particular, improves bone mineral density, which can help fight osteoporosis and reduce your risk of fracture. Why is this so vital? Fractures can be devastating for an older person, often leading to hospitalization and sometimes creating a downward spiral of events with dire consequences. Aside from good bone density, it’s extremely important for older people to have good balance, flexibility, and strength.
- Postural stability is improved when you swim. On the topic of fractures, 87 percent of fractures in people over the age of 65 happen because of falls. Better balance can help prevent falls. Postural stability, the ability to stay still without swaying, helps improve a person’s balance. One study even specifically indicated that the improvement in balance a person gains by swimming can significantly reduce the risk of falls.
- People who swim are more flexible. Stretching before and after exercising promotes flexibility but swimming provides this benefit all on its own. The very act of swimming can help to increase flexibility throughout the body, particularly in the hips, legs, arms, and neck. Further, swimming can improve your posture.
- Swimming strengthens and tones the muscles. While it might not seem like it, swimming is a wonderful form of resistance training. Water is more resistant than air, and it pushes against your body when you move, improving your muscle strength. Each movement stretches, lengthens, and tones your muscles while helping you build endurance.
- Your mental health benefits from a dip in the pool. Many older people experience depression and anxiety, and swimming can help alleviate these conditions by releasing endorphins. Swimming boosts your mood, reduces stress levels, and increases brain function. What’s more, swimming can be a social activity, combatting feelings of isolation and loneliness.
- Swimming can alleviate pain. Pain can be a problem for older people, often causing them to avoid exercise. Swimming is one exercise that actually relieves pain, which makes it wonderful for people who can’t manage weight bearing activities, and yet need to get cardiovascular exercise. Better still, it’s accessible to people at every fitness level.
- If you want a great full body workout, swimming is the way to go. Your arms push and pull against the water, and each stroke engages the shoulders, biceps, triceps, upper back, and chest. The core muscles are also fully engaged when you’re swimming. The abs and lower back help with your balance and allow you to move efficiently through the water. Your hips help you to kick and propel yourself through the water. You’ll be more stable not only when you’re in the water, but also in your everyday life. The other muscles in your lower body, including the glutes, quads, and hamstrings, also benefit from a swim.
Do you have to be good at swimming to reap the benefits of exercising in the water? Absolutely not. There are actually four types of water exercises that are great for all ages of people and swimming is just one of them. If you enjoy swimming but haven’t done it in a while, you can easily take a class and work up quickly to swimming for 30 minutes at a time. Another type of exercise that’s often tailored to seniors is water aerobics. Water aerobics classes involve movements like the ones you would encounter in a traditional aerobics class, like dancing, but also make use of water walking. You can also make the most of the resistant quality of water by doing water resistance exercises like arm curls, leg swings, and calf raises. Rather than using weights for strength training, you’ll be using the water to help build and tone muscle. There are also water relaxation exercises that offer many benefits. Aqua yoga and Pilates, for example, can help lower heart rate, blood pressure, and stress. These are often offered in senior swimming classes.
Swimming benefits for seniors are well-documented and if you want to take full advantage of this wholesome, healthful activity, having a personal backyard pool is ideal. Whether you need a pool installed or you already have a pool and need some help maintaining it, you can depend on Blue Haven Pools to help with all your swimming pool needs. We’re Oklahoma’s premier provider of custom inground pool designs, and we even offer features like sun shelfs, rock waterfalls, pool fountains, beach entries, pool mosaics, and much more. We’ll install your decking and pool, and help you find the right supplies and chemicals to keep it beautiful and clear. With over 30 years of experience, we’ve got resources and knowledge to provide your perfect pool. Contact Blue Haven for more information or call 405-817-1946 today!