As people age, regular exercise becomes increasingly critical to maintain fit and healthy bodies. Beyond helping seniors to feel strong and energetic, a consistent schedule of light exercise has several other positive side effects as well – including a reduced risk of injuries and improved mental acuteness. Along with taking regular walks, swimming is an ideal workout for senior citizens because it’s low impact and presents a minimal risk of injury. Swimming is also a complete workout, incorporating the entire body and utilizing all muscles groups. Below is a closer look at six of the biggest reasons why swimming is great exercise for seniors.
1. Easy on the Joints
For many seniors, the root cause of those bodily aches and pains comes down to joints. While hitting the treadmill or going for a jog will get heart rate going, you’ll be paying a steep price afterwards if you’re dealing with joint discomfort. With swimming, your body weight is supported by the pool water, which means you can get in a strong, full-body workout without putting painful pressure on the joints in your hip, spine, and knees.
2. Increased Flexibility
Stretching exercises are always the most effective way to maintain good flexibility, but swimming will help to add flexibility – especially in the hips, arms, legs, and neck. Why should seniors care about being flexible? Studies show that with improved flexibility comes reduced back pain, better posture, enhanced muscle coordination, less soreness, and a lower rate of injuries.
3. Toned Muscles
Water is approximately twelve times denser than air, which means that you’re putting every muscle to use every time you move around in the water. Regardless of what type of swimming exercise you are doing, each arm stroke and leg kick functions as a form of resistance training – an excellent way to build muscle strength and tone. When your muscles are toned, you tend to have less flabby skin, which also means you can hold on those good looks well into old age.
4. Reduced Risk of Osteoporosis
One of the changes to the human body that many seniors struggle with has to do with bone density. After the age of 50, a third of women and a fifth of men experience a fracture because of osteoporosis, or chronic reduction in bone quality and density. While bone density naturally decreases with age, the risk of osteoporosis is lowest among those who exercise regularly. By swimming, seniors can better preserve bone density and fight osteoporosis.
5. Heart Health
Swimming is an aerobic exercise, which means that when you swim, you’re helping your heart to become stronger, larger, and more efficient at pumping blood throughout your body. Not only does regular aerobic exercise reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, it actually lowers inflammation by preventing fatty build-ups in the arteries. In old age – and at any age – exercise that keeps our hearts healthy is time and energy well spent.
6. Mental Health
Along with the many physical health benefits to swimming, there are also the mental and psychological benefits that make this an attractive workout for seniors. Studies show that swimming and other exercises can relieve stress and improve mood levels. Furthermore, swimming in public pools or with friends and family creates situations for older adults to be social and avoid feelings of isolation or loneliness.
Southgate at Shrewsbury is one of the few facilities of its kind to have a full-size, heated indoor pool. Water aerobics classes are offered three days a week, and the pool is open daily for free swim time. Our classes are no-stress and no impact, and are fantastic for your cardiovascular health. And whether you take advantage of these or just enjoy the free swim time, it’s always a great social — and healthy! — activity to enjoy with friends.