Swimming is good for everyone, but it provides special health benefits for seniors. Taking a dip regularly can boost heart health, improve flexibility and strengthen muscles without putting stress or strain on the body. One study even shows that swimming can reduce falls in older people.
Swimming is the fourth most popular sports activity in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which also says that swimmers have about half the risk of premature death compared with people who do not exercise at all. Just two and a half hours of swimming each week can decrease the risk of chronic illnesses. The CDC also points out that people enjoy swimming more than exercising on land, and that they can exercise longer in water than on land.
Because the human body is buoyant in water, swimming improves the use of arthritic joints without worsening symptoms. People with rheumatoid arthritis experience more improvements in their health after swimming than after engaging in other activities.
Swimming can also improve mental health. Research shows swimming can improve mood in both men and women. Exercise therapy can decrease anxiety in people with fibromyalgia, and swimming in warm water can decrease depression and improve moods.
Swimming offers special health benefits for older adults by decreasing disability and improving quality of life. One study shows swimming can improve bone mineral density in older women; high bone density can reduce the risk of fractures. Other research shows swimming can improve overall health-related quality of life in elderly people.
Swimming can improve blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other measurements of heart health. Aquatic exercise burns a tremendous amount of energy, so it can help lower blood sugar levels.
Five Simple – and Fun – Exercises for the Pool
1. Aqua jogging
Aqua jogging is simply jogging through the water. While aqua jogging is simple, it does an excellent job of raising the heart rate for a great cardiovascular workout. For a gentle workout, walk through the water or march in place instead of jogging.
2. Leg lifts
Leg lifts use the natural resistance of water to work all the muscles in the legs. Leg lifts also improve balance to reduce the risk of falls. To perform leg lifts, stand at the edge of the pool, lift one leg out to the side then back down. Continue performing leg lifts until the leg is tired; switch to the other leg.
3. Flutter kicking
Flutter kicking is a low-impact cardiovascular exercise. To perform flutter kicking, hold onto a kickboard or the side of the pool and then kick your feet at a steady tempo.
4. Arm curls
Arm curls may be done with or without water weights; using water weights increases resistance and therefore offers more health benefits than doing arm curls without water weights. To perform arm curls, stand in the pool and hold your arms out in front, then curl your arms up and back down. This exercise may be done with your palms facing towards your face or away from your face, using the same curling motion.
5. Standing water pushups
This exercise builds arm, chest and shoulder strength without putting excessive pressure on joints. To perform standing water pushups, stand in the pool and place your hands on the edge of the pool, a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Bend your arms and lean in towards the edge of the pool and then push yourself back out.
Oakland, CA, is Ideal for Swimming
With its sunny skies and mild temperatures, Oakland, CA, is an ideal place for swimming. Yelp lists several places to swim, including Lake Temescal, Temescal Swimming Pool and Trefethen Aquatic Center. Many City of Oakland pools offer senior discounts, senior swims and aquatics. Roberts Regional Recreation Area, located inside of Redwood Regional Park in Alameda County next to Oakland, features recreational swimming, lap swimming and a special time set aside for disabled swimmers only in their heated swimming pool.
With views of the water as well as views of the city, Lake Park is conveniently located near several places to swim. We also offer a full complement of activities and a fitness center to help you work toward better health. Please contact us today to schedule a tour of our campus, or to learn more about our continuing care retirement community in Oakland.