When you imagine a swimming pool, images of sunny afternoons, sunscreen and kids doing cannon balls into the deep end may come to mind. But besides its recreational purpose, your pool is great for exercising, especially for seniors. The extra resistance without the impact means that aquatic fitness benefits the mind, body and soul.
Good for the Body
According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, swimming is the fourth most popular sports-based exercise in the country. It’s no wonder why, since participating in a swimming activity just two to three hours each week can significantly decrease incidents of chronic illnesses.
Since water offers natural resistance, aquatic exercises can increase your endurance and strength while taking it easy on your joints. The low-impact of water aerobics and exercise makes it a popular choice among seniors. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) even claims that water-based exercises can lessen disability severity in seniors. If you are a senior with muscle, joint or bone issues, pool exercises can be challenging enough to make a difference in how your body feels while being gentle enough not to strain troubled areas. Specifically in older women, swimming has been known to maintain or improve the health of bones after menopause. Furthermore, seniors have reported decreases in discomfort, daily function improvement and a better quality of life, says Whetstone Mescher from the Arthritis Foundation.
The type of aquatic exercise and level of intensity that’s best for you depends on what your goal is. If you want to burn a few calories, the easy act of treading water can shed as much as 11 calories per minute. For more intensive aquatic sessions, try water aerobics or water jumping jacks. Gradually implement your own equipment, like hand webs, for added resistance or water shoes for traction. Your regiment depends on you. If you want to dive into your own pool fitness regimen, Poolcenter.com has water aerobics equipment and stationary swimming systems that are perfect to get started.
Good for the Mind
Swimming exercises also improve mental health. Water activities have been known to boost one’s mood and to decrease anxiety in those who suffer from fibromyalgia, reports the CDC. Simply taking a dip in a warm-water pool and performing some exercise therapy can improve your mood and decrease depression. Medical Daily also explains that the water can help relieve stress and tension because your muscles loosen and relax.
Good for the Soul
Swimming exercises also provide social benefits and improves the psyche. There are many community centers that offer water aerobics or swimming courses specifically geared toward seniors. When you engage in a group activity, you engage with those around you. With water activities you also feel better about yourself, become more confident and independent, and improve how you view yourself.
The swimming pool may appear to be a simple, summer day activity, but underneath that recreational façade lies a world of fitness possibilities with many benefits for the mind, body and soul.