Physical activity is an important aspect to living a long, healthy and happy life.
For seniors, physical activity can be difficult due to the high-impact on their joints and cardiovascular health. Seniors who participate in physical activity that is too hard on their bodies are more likely to experience injuries due to their activities. Swimming is a form of low-impact and safe exercise for seniors that allows them to get physical and stay healthy!
How Are Water-Based Activities Safe for Seniors?
During water-based exercises, the body may feel lighter in weight and joints may feel temporary relief. While submerged in water, seniors are more likely to be able to exercise without pain and discomfort in their joints and bones. This is due to the buoyancy that water provides, giving seniors the chance to move more with less limitations. This makes swimming a much safer form of physical activity when compared to more intense forms of land-based exercises such as yoga, walking or weight training.
Since seniors can feel less pain and discomfort while they are in the water, they are able to work out a little bit harder and a little bit longer. Although ultimately the level of intensity and the duration of workouts will be decided by their medical professionals, the senior may feel up to the challenge of pushing themselves a little bit more. When done in a safe manner and with proper form, upping the intensity of workouts can result in an increase in muscle strength, flexibility and bone health.
Swimming is a safe way to build up their muscle strength and improve flexibility after an injury, especially when related to a fall.
Health Benefits of Water-Based Exercise
Besides increasing muscle strength and improving flexibility, water-based exercises can also bring several health benefits to a senior’s life. Health benefits of water-based exercises includes but is not limited to:
- Swimming can help reduce the risk of developing Osteoporosis occurs when the body loses too much bone or cannot replace the bone, thus leaving too little bone in the body. Swimming can help build up bone health in seniors to prevent loss of bone density and strength.
- Swimming will help the senior work their lungs and heart alike, improving their heart health and contractility and decreasing blood pressure and heart rate. As we age, heart health is of the utmost importance and looking after the heart is one of the most important aspects of seniors staying healthy. By engaging in water-based activities, seniors can keep their heart and lungs healthy and vigorous.
- Swimming, just as other forms of exercise do, can improve the mood and mental health of seniors. Not only does exercise produce endorphins in the body that will help improve mood, but seniors may experience a boost of self-esteem. As we grow older, our bodies are unable to do things that may have never been a problem previously, which can cause seniors to feel depressed or sad. By participating in a new form of exercise, the elderly individual may feel a new sense of pride for themselves, as they are able to be active again. A boost in confidence and self-esteem can help seniors feel like themselves and on top of the world!
Different Types of Water-Based Exercises
It is imperative that seniors are always supervised while they are participating in water-based activities. Before participating in water-based activities, elderly adults should consult with their doctor. Water-based exercises will vary in several ways based on the elderly individual’s needs, capabilities and care plan. Different types of water-based exercises include:
- Water aerobics! This may be the most common type of water-based exercises that seniors enjoy participating in. With small movements and light resistance, water aerobics is a great way for seniors to get their heart rate up and improve their bone and joint health.
- Swimming laps in a pool is a great way to get the heart rate up and enjoy some cardio! While seniors may need to take more breaks during their lap, it will give them a chance to enjoy the water and swim at their pace, while keeping their heart rate up and burning calories.
- Working with a trainer that specializes in water-based exercise can help seniors switch up their routine! A trainer may have special machines for elderly clients to use in the water, such as a bicycle or ankle weights. A trainer, together with medical professionals, can assess the needs of the senior and change their exercise plan accordingly.
Before seniors participate in any sort of water-based activities, we encourage extensive research into which activity is right for their body. When done properly and with the right form, water-based activities have plenty of health and mental benefits for seniors.