We all know that exercise is necessary to keep the body and mind in peak working condition. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), staying physically active can help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities. But as we grow older, exercise can become more challenging due to physical limitations such as joint pain, back problems, or a fear of becoming injured.
That’s where water comes in. Swimming, water aerobics and aquatic therapy are all excellent choices for seniors. These exercises not only provide a total body workout, building strength, endurance and flexibility, but also are low-impact activities, making them ideal for people with joint or back pain. Water buoys and supports the body, taking the pressure off muscles and joints. In addition to being easy on the joints, here are some other benefits of working out in water:
Build and tone muscles. Water is approximately 12 times denser than air, so when you move through water, you’re performing a resistance exercise, which builds and tones muscles. And, according to the NIH, resistance exercises appear to have the greatest positive effect on bone mineral density, lowering your risk for osteoporosis.
Increase your flexibility. Being in water (especially warm water) may lessen joint stiffness and pain, making it easier to move and increasing joint flexibility. Swimming is particularly helpful for increasing flexibility in the hips, arms, and legs. This increased flexibility reduces the likelihood of injury.
Improve your mind. Seniors who might avoid other types of exercise are more likely to keep up with a water exercise program. This is good news! In addition to improving the body, physical activity also is important for brain health. According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, physical exercise reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 50 percent. Other studies show that regular exercise can reduce stress and improve your mood.
Decrease your risk of falls. One of the reason seniors often avoid exercising is their fear of falling or injuring themselves. Water’s natural buoyancy supports the body, making falling virtually impossible and reducing the risk of injury. Additionally, the strength and flexibility you gain from working out in water also help prevent your risk of falling.
Keep your heart healthy. Swimming and water aerobics are great exercises for the heart, making it stronger and more efficient. According to the NIH, not only does regular aerobic exercise reduce the risk of coronary disease, but it also lowers inflammation by preventing fatty deposits in the arteries.
Finally, taking a water aerobics class or swimming in a public pool offers socialization opportunities for seniors, reducing their risk of isolation and loneliness.
So jump on in! The water’s fine!