From swimming lengths to aqua aerobics, the swimming pool is a popular workout spot for the older population. If you’re in your golden years and you want to know how to keep fit and healthy, swimming might be the perfect sport for you. Read on to find out why!
1. Swimming is low impact on your joints
Most traditional sports have a high impact on your joints. This puts a lot of pressure on your hips, knees and ankles. The buoyancy of water supports your joints, meaning you don’t have to bear as much weight. By keeping pressure off your joints swimming is great for older adults who suffer from arthritis or those with problems in their hips or knees.
2. Is swimming good for your heart?
Like any cardiovascular exercise, swimming is good for your heart. It can reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. Swimming also works the lungs, so fitting in a regular swimming session will lower your heart and breathing rate, increasing your overall health and fitness.
3. Can swimming increase flexibility?
Your flexibility decreases the older you get, and the less flexible you are, the more prone you are to injuries. The range of motion your body performs during swimming activities can lengthen your muscles, making you more flexible. As a result of being more limber, you might find your muscle coordination improve, an alleviation of back pain, and a better posture.
4. Swimming may increase balance and core strength
Continuing with the benefits to your muscles, swimming makes use of all your muscles, especially your core muscles. A good core is essential to your balance, so if the thought of doing sit-ups terrify you then swimming might be the way to go. Strong abdominal muscles will greatly improve your balance and therefore reduce your risk of falling.
Swimming doesn’t only do wonders for senior citizens, read about the health benefits it can have for women during pregnancy.
The best pool exercises for seniors
Your swimming session doesn’t have to just involve swimming lengths of the pool. Although swimming lengths are a great way to keep fit, it can get boring! These pool exercises are a great option for when you want to change things up, or if you’re just not that keen a swimmer.
Water walking or jogging
In waist-deep water, walk or jog the width of the pool back and forth. This is a great cardiovascular exercise that will get your heart pumping and can be great for posture. Remember to keep your feet flat on the floor, not on your tiptoes, to make sure you are getting the full range of movement.
Stand with your back against the swimming pool wall and put your arms up so they are resting on the side of the pool. Keeping your legs straight, raise them up until you are at a right angle, and then lower them again. This exercise is great for your core strength, and you can also twist side to side to help strengthen your oblique muscles.
This one is an effective, low impact exercise for your arms. You need to stand in water at shoulder depth and raise your arms out to both sides. Move your arms in circular motions, starting one way and then changing directions after about 15 seconds. You can also try this water aerobics exercise with a noodle or weights if you want to challenge yourself even further!
This one is a simple one that you can do it in any depth of water that’s at least waist height. It simply involves raising your feet from flat to on your tip-toes and back again to work your calves. You can do this facing a wall if you need to hold on for extra balance. We recommend repeating 20 times.
Swimming at a senior age safety precautions
The area around swimming pools are notoriously slippy! Investing in a pair of swimming shoes will help prevent slips and falls from happening, as well as protecting your feet from the bottom of the pool if you’re engaging in some aqua aerobics.
2. Entering and exiting the pool
Lots of public swimming pools favour step ladders over stairs. These can be tricky to navigate so remember to take it slow. By not rushing you avoid overexerting yourself or losing your footing.
3. Don’t swim alone
Seniors have an increased risk of injury at the swimming pool so swimming with a friend is always a good idea. If anything happens they are there to help or go get help if they can’t themselves.
4. Know your limits
Remember to take it easy and don’t over exert yourself. If you’re feeling out of breath or things are starting to ache then get out of the water and have a rest. Before you start any new activity you need to consult with a doctor so that you can ensure you’re on the same page about any potential risks to your health.