If you’re looking for ways to get in better shape this summer, there’s one type of exercise that offers seniors’ a wide array of health benefits: swimming.
Water exercises for seniors provide an ideal way to lose some extra weight while building lean muscle and increasing overall strength. In fact, swimming is often called the perfect exercise for seniors to help them maintain or improve their health. This is due to the fact that water provides a low-impact, low-weight bearing exercise. Swimming is easy on the joints, reducing the force behind your movements that can jolt your muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons. Many older adults find they can do exercises in a swimming pool that they could never hope to accomplish on dry land.
Simple Swimming Pool Exercises with Great Health Benefits
As always, before you begin any new fitness program, talk to your doctor about any risks or limitations you should be aware of. Start out slowly, adding just five minutes of exercise to your daily routine, and gradually increase that time to 30 minutes a day for the best results.
Plenty of community pools, fitness centers or your local YMCA offer senior swimming sessions with water exercises designed specifically for older adults. Some of these exercises include:
Water walking: This swimming pool exercise is a great way to get started with a water fitness routine. You’ll want to wade in until you’re about waist deep, then walk around the pool just like you would on land. Swing your arms, keep your back straight and avoid walking on your tiptoes.
Arm circles: Submerge yourself in the water until only your neck and head are out of the pool. For extra balance, stand near the wall and keep one foot out in front of the other. Then, raise your arms out to the side, keeping them just below the surface and make circle-like motions. Count to 15, then reverse direction.
Kickboard resistance: This water exercise requires a small kickboard or boogie board to provide added resistance. Hold the kickboard on each end in waist deep water, then extend one arm to the side, keeping your elbow close. Push the kickboard toward the center of your body, then extend it back out. Do 10 to 15 reps with each arm.
Wall chair: In a corner of the pool in chest-deep water, hold on to the edges of the pool, extending your legs while keeping your feet together. Use your core muscles to pull your knees up to your chest for about 10 to 15 reps. For an added benefit, twist your legs to both sides when lifting them to work your oblique muscles.
Leg swings: This swimming exercise helps seniors strengthen their leg muscles. Standing in waist-deep water, hold on to the edge of the pool, then swing the outside leg as far forward as you can. Hold this position for five seconds, then swing the leg behind you. Do 10 to 15 reps with both legs.
Maintaining fitness is very important for seniors. For those who don’t like the water or do not have access, American Senior Communities offers our New Energy Wellness program. These are specially designed exercises that allow seniors to progress at their own pace. Our Health Promotion Coordinators will work with you and your physician to design a customized senior fitness program and will also supervise, assist and motivate you to keep your goals.
To join our senior fitness program or to request more information, find a location near you today.