Is Swimming The Best Exercise For Seniors?

There are a many reasons why swimming and water-based exercise may be the best choice for seniors. Water based exercises are second only to walking in lowest rates for injuries.

They are commonly used for physical therapy modes for those recovering from major surgery.

Water also provides more options for those who are lacking in general fitness or have a prior injury that makes land based activity difficult.

Finally, water based activities work the entire body, serving as a form of both strength training even as aerobic training takes place.

Why is swimming the best exercise for seniors?

Swimming pool eldery people

Swimming utilizes nearly all major muscle groups simultaneously, imparting a total body work out. Because of the inherent resistance of the water, swimming develops both muscle strength and endurance, as well as helps flexibility.

Because of its horde of effects, swimming provides almost all of the aerobic benefits of running even as it yields many of the benefits of resistance training thrown in.

Because swimming does not put the strain on connective tissues that running, aerobics and some weight-training regimens do, swimming is the kind of low-impact work out that is perfect for seniors seeking to regain or maintain their fitness.

What are the benefits of exercise for elderly people?

The Benefits

While weight loss and cardiovascular exercise are common benefits of any type of exercise, moving while partially or fully-submerged in the water offers some distinct advantages that set these forms of exercise apart from land-based activity. The buoyancy factor makes swimming and water exercise among the most injury-free sports, making it a good exercise choice for most seniors.

Pamela Bartlo, PT, DPT, and clinical assistant professor at D’Youville College, outlines what water workouts can do for the elderly.

  1. Blood Pumper– It doesn’t matter if a senior is water-jogging, taking a water warrior class, or swimming—using the water to get their heart rate up will increase aerobic capacity, burn fat, and decrease their risk for heart disease.
  2. Balance Enhancer– Aging limbs and slowly worsening vision can cause an older person to lose coordination and increase their risk of falling. Aquatic exercise is a great way to combat this loss of balance. Water that is at least waist deep will allow an elderly person to build strength and work on their by fighting against turbulent waves and currents. This is an especially safe way to cultivate coordination as water-induced buoyancy will prevent them from falling.
  3. Strength Builder– Trying to make quick arm and leg movements in the water is a form of resistance training that can help build muscle strength and endurance.

elder swimming

Dr. Bartlo also points out that age-related joint pain often inhibits an older person’s ability to exercise on dry land. But, she says that, working out in the water puts significantly less stress on joints, allowing them to exercise pain-free for longer periods of time.

This is a sport especially gentle to those who are physically challenged. The buoyancy factor of water makes swimming the most injury-free exercise available. So it is specifically interesting to seniors, especially those with any type of joint issues.

In water, a person’s body weight is reduced by 90% as compared to its weight on land.

For example, a 220 pound man will weigh about 22 pounds if he is standing in chin deep water.

Exercises in water can also be done more often because of the low incidence of injuries and it is more effective for exercising the entire body as any movement in water 12 times greater resistance than movement in air.

For the elderly, water fitness is safe, fills the need for exercise, increases a body’s range of motion and is a low-impact exercise.

To your health,
George Salinas

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