Let’s face it: swimming is fun! Each year as summer begins, millions of people flock to the beaches, to the lakes and to the swimming pool.
For families, water provides recreation and family fun. For seniors, it can provide health benefits, and is a way for seniors to enjoy the company of family, enticing even the busiest grandkid to come over for a swim.
Get familiar with some of the many health benefits that swimming offers seniors:
Exercise with less pain
Exercising while in water provides buoyancy that supports the joints and can reduce pain. Swimming, water jogging, and water aerobics allow seniors to exercise without the jarring movements that can occur during other types of exercise.
Increase muscle strength
Exercise in the water offers natural resistance. Similar to the effects one may get with weight training, water exercises are a strength training activity. The good news is that the faster you go, the more the water resists and builds up the muscle strength so the senior can control how much work he or she can do.
Due to the buoyant support of the water, movements are smooth and easy on the hips, arms, neck, and legs. This can help increase a senior’s flexibility which can help to reduce back pain, enhance muscle coordination, decrease soreness, and improve posture. Maintaining flexibility can help to prevent injury.
Reduce risk of osteoporosis
One of the problems that seniors, particularly women, have to deal with is loss of bone density and strength. Experts have proven that weight bearing exercise can help to maintain bone strength. Exercise using water as the resistance can do the same and seniors who swim and perform water exercise can reduce the progression and help to prevent osteoporosis.
Improve the heart
Swimming when used as exercise is an aerobic activity. This means that swimming, just like running or aerobics can increase the heart rate which over time, encourages the heart to become stronger and more efficient at pumping blood throughout your body. Routine exercise can help to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease and may help with weight loss if it is needed.
Improve mental status
Some of the exercise benefits from swimming and water exercise can improve brain function and cognition, with better blood flow and increased oxygenation. More importantly though, swimming is often a social activity, in which one can have fun with others, which can stave off depression and loneliness. Swimming is also a good activity for seniors and youngsters to perform together and finally, swimming is just plain fun which can keep the senior “young at heart.”
Certainly, water safety should be practiced. Seniors who are unable to swim without aid should not be allowed to swim alone and most people should practice the buddy system, always swimming with a buddy – even if they are great swimmers.
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