As we age, exercise becomes more difficult. Balance, joint pain, heart and lung issues, bone density, and even hearing can affect our ability to safely work out. But one form of exercise is at the top of the list when it comes to physical activity for seniors: water aerobics. Why? Because aquatic exercises can provide the same benefits as workouts on land, including aerobic fitness, increased strength, endurance, flexibility and improved balance. But the added benefits of water aerobics for seniors include easier movement and less pain because of the buoyancy of water and reduced stress on joints. Let’s look at the water aerobics benefits for seniors in more detail. You just might find yourself diving into a new activity.
Four Benefits of Water Aerobics for Seniors
1. It’s easier on the joints.
Water workouts take less of a toll on your joints because water’s buoyancy naturally supports your weight. In neck-high water, nearly 90% of your body weight is canceled out – significantly reducing stress on weight-bearing joints, bones and muscles. It also reduces the risk of injury. Plus, water’s pressure on your body can also help decrease the swelling from painful injuries. In fact, older adults with arthritis who can’t run on a treadmill or don’t enjoy bicycling often find swimming an enjoyable way to get in better shape in a way no other form of exercise provides.
Finally, water workouts can also help someone recovering from surgery or an injury, as the water offers a safe spot to move around and rehabilitate. And if the pool is heated, even better. Heated pools help warm up your joints and muscles more quickly.
2. It builds strength.
Another one of many water aerobics benefits for seniors is increased strength. Water is nearly 800 times denser than air. That means you can build muscle mass more efficiently than you can on land. Plus, there are several devices you can add to your workout to make the most of the water’s resistance, including foam dumbbells, water weights, hand paddles and resistance gloves. Kickboards and buoyancy belts can also add variety to your workouts just to keep things interesting.
3. It’s good for your heart.
A study by the State University of New York showed that swimmers enjoyed lower heart rates and blood pressure than non-swimmers, as well as improved breathing and circulation. Swimming is also a great physical activity for those in cardiac rehabilitation and recovering from heart failure or artery disease.
Michael Crawford, MS, supervises cardiac rehabilitation at the Cleveland Clinic. He agrees that swimming is good aerobic exercise for heart patients. “Swimming uses multiple body parts with more emphasis on the upper body,” Mr. Crawford says.
4. It can help you lose weight.
One of the best benefits of water aerobics for seniors is weight loss. It’s hard to find an activity that burns calories more efficiently than exercising in water. In fact, swimming can burn 540 calories per hour for someone weighing 170 pounds. When combined with healthy eating, water aerobics can help you shed some pounds, feel better and move around easier.
If you’ve never done water aerobics, water walking is a great place to start. Simply walk across the pool in water that’s about waist-high and swing your arms just like you would when walking on land. Walk normally (not on your tiptoes), keep your back straight, and tighten your abdominal muscles to avoid leaning too far forward or to the side. Water shoes can also help you maintain good traction and protect your feet if the bottom of the pool is too rough.
Once you’re comfortable water walking, try some of these other common water aerobic techniques:
- Walk in deeper water.
- Jog or run in place in the water.
- Incorporate resistance devices into your workout.
- Sign up for a water aerobics class.
As you can see, the benefits of water aerobics for seniors are many. But they’re not just physical benefits. As your strength and balance increases, so will your mobility. You’ll be more physically fit and mentally alert. Your heart will function more efficiently and your breathing will improve. When you add up all these benefits, you’ll find yourself happier and more relaxed, able to approach each day knowing you’re better equipped to handle whatever it brings.
The Stayton at Museum Way
If water aerobics exercises for seniors sounds like something you’d benefit from and you’re on the lookout for a senior living community that offers them, consider The Stayton at Museum Way. Classes take place in our indoor pool and our fitness center provides endless opportunities to stay fit when you feel like staying dry. Just fill out the brief form below to be contacted by one of our helpful representatives.