Aquatic exercise is perhaps the most ideal form of fitness for seniors. The wear and tear on elderly bodies can limit previous athletic abilities and make it difficult to find forms of exercise that don’t cause further pain to joints. Exercising in water eliminates many issues associated with various forms of weight-bearing exercise while still being an effective way for aging people to build strength and endurance or heal from injury.
Curious why seniors specifically benefit from water aerobics? Here are some of the reasons elderly adults should be encouraged to take a dip in their nearest pool!
Water Aerobics Is Easy On The Joints
Arthritis and osteoporosis are incredibly common in older adults. These conditions affect the bones and joints, which is why so many seniors experience stiffness and pain in their feet, knees, hips, and hands as they get older. Since being in water provides a low-impact, low-weight bearing environment, it allows people to move freely without pain. A warm, aquatic workout is also proven to reduce inflammation and improve circulation.
Aquatic Exercise Reduces The Risk Of Falls
Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury in people over age 75 and are a major concern for seniors and those who care for them. Fall prevention is an important aspect of daily work for assisted living, retirement communities and adult day care services. Instruction from a trained water aerobics coordinator can help reduce the risk of falls in seniors through specific exercises aimed at improving gait balance, gravity control, flexibility, and strength.
The Pool Is A Nice Place To Socialize
Social stimulation is important for seniors. As people get older, they lose many of their friends or partner. Social isolation and loneliness are unfortunately common problems the elderly face. Many community programs and senior centers now have adult day care software that allow seniors to view an activity calendar. This makes finding and signing up to attend events easily accessibly. Group aquatic exercise classes allow seniors who may be facing similar ailments and life situations to encourage one another and have fun together. Social interaction coupled with the endorphins released during exercise makes for a wonderful mental, emotional and physical boost.
Both Warm And Cold Water Have Healing Effects
Water, in general, is known to have a calming effect on the body and mind. Warm water increases blood flow and circulation, reduces joint inflammation, and relaxes muscles. That said, there are benefits to swimming in cold water, too (if you can brave it)! In reacting to the cold, your body produces more white blood cells, which gives your immune system a boost. Coldwater swimming has been shown as a treatment for depression. This is because the cold gives a natural high, releasing endorphins.
Tips For Getting Started
Never swim alone or someplace where a lifeguard isn’t present.
Talk To Your Doctor
Go to your doctor with any questions or concerns about starting an aquatic exercise regimen.
Get The Right Accessories
You don’t need more than a bathing suit to get started swimming. That said, depending on the type of class you want to take and the intensity of your exercise, you might want to purchase goggles, swim shoes, ear or nose plugs, quick-dry towels, and a swim cap.
Explore Your Class Options
Check your local fitness centers or YMCA to see if there are any introductory swim classes or private lessons available. These are a great first step if you aren’t comfortable in the water yet. Once you have your bearings, feel confident in the water, and are ready for the next step, you can graduate to other aquatic group activities.
Stop Doing Anything That Is Painful
If you begin to feel pain, take a break and consult your doctor. You don’t want to overdo it. Icing your joints for 15-20 minutes after exercise can help if you do happen to experience any flare-ups.