A dip in the pool provides many health benefits, and some that are unique to this particular form of exercise. Swimming is great for people of all ages, but also features some additional benefits for older adults. Here are just a few:
Easy on Joints
Older adults often suffer from stiff joints and joint pain, especially in the hips and knees. However, swimming eliminates much of this discomfort. While land-based activities are all weight-bearing, meaning that you feel the full weight of your body, swimming is not. The water makes your body buoyant, eliminating the pressure and strain on your joints. This type of exercise is even popular among people who live with arthritis, a common illness in older adults.
Swimming is great cardiovascular exercise. Your blood flows more quickly and your heart beats faster. This in turn can improve circulation, lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of a heart attack. A healthier heart and cardiovascular system reduces the effort required to perform everyday tasks such as walking up stairs and getting around the house. Because mobility can decrease with age, making sure you’re able to keep up with the daily activities you love is important.
Older adults lose muscle mass just as a normal result of aging. However, this can be reversed by exercising. Muscle strength and mass is naturally increased through exercise. The great thing about swimming is that it works many of the major muscle groups all at once. You can even specifically target different groups of muscles by using different strokes. Alternatively, water aerobics and water resistance exercises also take advantage of water’s ability to reduce joint pain, but allow older adults to enjoy the benefit of increasing muscle strength.
Older adults may experience stress, anxiety or depression. One of the best ways to combat mental health issues is through exercise and socializing. Exercising causes the release of hormones that trigger feelings of happiness and well-being. Swimming at a community pool or gym almost guarantees interaction with other swimmers. Most organizations featuring a pool also offer classes, which further encourages camaraderie while swimming.
Reduces Risk of Falling
For older adults, falling is a major concern for injury. Broken bones, head trauma and lesser injuries can affect mobility and quality of life.
In one study in Australia, older men who practiced swimming regularly were 33% less likely to fall when compared to other men who participated in other forms of exercise. Water requires the use of many muscle groups and the stability of gravity is lost in the water. Rather, the body must produce its own stability and support. In addition, men who practiced swimming showed less “postural sway”, meaning they were able to stand stronger without movement in the hips.
Making use of your muscles and the movements used in swimming can increase your flexibility. This means you’ll have an easier time scooping an item off the floor or reaching a cup in the back of the cupboard. Everyday mobility becomes more and more important for independence as we age. Stay agile and nimble as an older adult through swimming.
Swimming offers many health benefits for older adults with few unpleasant side effects, such as joint pain, which are often experienced when participating in other forms of exercise.
Looking for the perfect place to swim? Try Blue Buoy! Learn more about us at www.bluebuoy.com or give us a call at (714) 832-8910.