Swimming is a great workout for older adults because it is low impact, poses minimal injury risk, and works every muscle group in the body, making it a safe and effective way to stay in shape. Since it is easier for older adults with common conditions such as arthritis to swim rather than participate in other types of exercise, they are more likely to stick with swimming long-term, increasing the potential of health benefits.
Read on to learn more about ten of the most beneficial effects of swimming for older adults.
- It improves heart health. Swimming improves cardiovascular health by strengthening the heart and increasing endurance. It also lowers blood pressure, raises good cholesterol, and improves circulation, helping lower the risk of heart and lung disease. However, if you have a preexisting heart condition, be sure to get confirmation from your doctor that water exercises are safe and beneficial for you.
- It is gentle on the joints. Because you are essentially weightless while swimming, it won’t put unnecessary strain on your joints, making it a particularly effective exercise for older adults who suffer from arthritis or other joint pain. Swimming keeps the pressure off your knees, back, and hips, which reduces the risk of injury.
- It reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Swimming improves bone mineral density (BMD), which lowers the risk of osteoporosis. Because of the prevalence of osteoporosis as we age – a third of women and a fifth of men over 50 will sustain a fracture because of osteoporosis – it’s important to take preventative measures to combat your risk.
- It improves muscle strength. Swimming is hailed as such an effective exercise for older adults because it effectively strengthens every muscle in your body without weight lifting and with minimal risk of strain or pulled muscles. Moving in water creates resistance, which significantly builds and tones muscle.
- It improves stability and flexibility. Swimming is a comprehensive full-body workout that works all major muscle groups. Building and strengthening muscles, especially your core, legs, and upper body, improves posture and increases stability and flexibility, which will significantly decrease the risk of falls and related injuries as well as help reduce back pain or stiffness.
- It boosts mental well-being. Any exercise is beneficial for mental health, as it increases endorphins and serotonin, relieves stress, and improves mood. Studies show that taking a dip reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as helps your body fight free radicals, which improves brain function. In addition, swimming in a public setting will reduce common feelings of isolation and loneliness in older adults and help alleviate the symptoms of depression.
- It’s a great way to socialize. Many communities for older adults, including The Vista, have water exercise classes available where you can socialize and meet new people while you work out. Participating in group exercise improves both physical and mental health in older adults and offers a sense of community that can help combat any feelings of isolation and loneliness.
- It improves sleep. A sleep study by the National Institute on Aging on 9,000 men and women aged 65 and older found that over half of the participants reported at least one chronic sleep complaint. Older adults are prone to insomnia for a variety of reasons, including chronic pain, medical conditions, and medication effects. Adequate sleep is essential for health and well-being, and aerobic exercise such as swimming burns significant calories, leaving older adults tired enough to make falling asleep easier. Swimming can also be very relaxing, which helps alleviate anxiety and promote a good night’s rest.
- It doesn’t hurt. Working out can cause discomfort and pain, particularly for older adults. However, because the body is buoyant in water, swimming doesn’t put any pressure on your joints and improves your range of motion during your workout.
- It’s good for your brain. Being immersed in water actually increases blood flow to the brain, which boosts mood, improves memory, and increases concentration and cognitive function. A study on the effect of swimming on brain function in older adults found that those who swam had improved mental speed and attention compared with those who did not swim.
Want to learn more about CCRC living at The Vista?
The Vista is a premier CCRC in Northern New Jersey, offering many fitness and wellness activities, including water-exercise classes. Learn more about us by calling (201) 848-4200 or providing your contact information using our quick and easy form.