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Healthy Aging | 04/6/21
Regular exercise is important at every stage of life, but for older adults, keeping physically active offers a unique set of benefits for your cardiovascular and mental health, as well as improving your mobility and reducing your risk of injuries.
Despite the mind-body-spirit advantages of exercise, it’s not always possible to be as active as you’d like. Joints may creak, or you may be recovering from an injury or illness that affects your strength. Swimming is one way you can get in a full workout and engage all your muscle groups without overexerting yourself.
Before you consider what kind of swimming exercises you might enjoy best, it’s a good idea to understand the health benefits of swimming for seniors.
One of the biggest health benefits of swimming for seniors is the impact on your heart health. Even moderate activity gets your blood pumping, which keeps your cardiovascular system going strong and can build your heart’s strength over time.
The increased blood flow that benefits your heart is good for your cognitive health, too. Better blood flow means more oxygen reaches your brain, and oxygen plays a vital role in your brain power. The higher your blood oxygen level, the stronger your cognitive function and overall health are likely to be.
Maintaining your strength and agility is another important health benefit of swimming for seniors. Toned muscles support better balance for safer movement and improvements in your posture. The muscle strength and tone you gain as you move against the water’s natural resistance can help prevent accidents and injuries, including falls.
Muscles that don’t get used regularly can deteriorate quickly, and that can affect your overall range of motion for certain limbs and joints. Regular swimming allows you to gently stretch your muscles without straining them, which in turn improves your flexibility and can help reduce stiffness and pain.
Physical improvements aren’t the only health benefits of swimming for seniors. Physical activity releases feel-good chemicals in your brain, which means exercise can even help boost your mood and mental state. What’s more, although swimming can be a solo exercise, many seniors enjoy swimming with their peers or family members and enjoying some social time along with their exercise.
Water acts to your advantage, offering buoyancy so there’s less stress on your muscles and joints, along with natural resistance so you don’t need to worry about weights or other special equipment. Try these common swimming exercises for seniors to find what works best for you:
Water walking: Whether you stay in one place or add some movement by propelling yourself from one end of the pool to the other, water walking is an easy way to get your body moving and grow comfortable with the idea of a water workout. If you’re up to it, try dialing up the tempo and move into a jog.
Butterfly kicks: This popular swimming exercise for seniors is a favorite because it can be tailored to your abilities in many different ways. You can practice kicking while floating your body, or you can kick while holding onto the edge of the pool or a kickboard. Keep your legs straight and make steady up-and-down movements alternating each leg.
Pool push-ups: Especially for women, upper body strength tends to fade with age. Use the edge of the pool to perform push-ups that won’t strain your back and shoulders like land push-ups do. Place your hands on the edge shoulder width apart, lower your body into the edge by bending your elbows, then press against the ledge to move your body back out.
Other popular swimming exercises for seniors include swimming laps, lower body lunges, and even dancing.
At The Oaks at Denville, many of our residents reap the health benefits of swimming for seniors by participating in water aerobics classes led by our fitness coordinator, all in the comfort of our indoor heated pool.
Our focus on whole-person wellness extends throughout our community, where you’ll find a variety of options to ensure you’re in the best shape of your life. Contact us to arrange a tour and learn more about the lifestyle that awaits you at The Oaks at Denville.