Swimming can be a great form of exercise at any age, but it’s particularly beneficial for seniors. With numerous health benefits on offer, it can be an effective way to reduce the risk of illness and enhance fitness. What’s more – it’s an exercise that can be fun and enjoyable for everyone, even if you’re new to fitness. To find out more, take a look at these nine reasons why seniors could benefit from a swimming habit:
Reduce Joint Discomfort
Joint pain is a common ailment amongst older people, and it can arise for a variety of reasons. Some people may experience joint discomfort due to general wear and tear, for example, whereas others might have joint pain due to arthritis or fibromyalgia.
Although it’s important to be active, some forms of exercise can increase the risk of joint degeneration and exacerbate pain. As a low-impact form of fitness, however, swimming can be a great option for seniors who are wary of joint discomfort. In fact, many people find that swimming actually helps to minimize existing discomfort and ease symptoms.
Decreased Risk of Falls
As you get older, you’re more likely to fall or trip and sustain related injuries. This can be because your balance declines or because your core strength decreases as you age. Fortunately, swimming can enhance both core strength and balance, which means it can also reduce the risk of falls and injuries.
When you swim, you exercise all of your body’s major muscle groups. Few other fitness options offer such an effective all-over workout, particularly if you want to avoid weight-bearing exercises. If you swim regularly, you’ll gradually increase your core strength and notice an improved sense of balance.
Make Social Connections
Many seniors feel lonelier and more isolated as they get older, particularly if your mobility prevents you from getting out and about. If you no longer drive, for example, meeting up with friends or family may be more difficult than it once was.
By taking part in a regular activity, however, you expand your social circle and get to meet new people. Even attending a spa or pool at the same time each week enables you to get to know other people. Of course, enrolling in a swimming class or taking part in a water aerobics session gives you even more opportunities to make social connections and meet new people.
Improve Heart Health
Swimming is a form of aerobic, or cardiovascular, exercise, which means it exercises your heart and cardiovascular system. When you swim regularly, you can reduce your blood pressure and increase the amount of ‘good’ cholesterol in your body. In turn, this reduces your risk of developing serious conditions, such as coronary heart disease.
Cardiovascular health should be a major priority for everyone, but it becomes particularly relevant as you get older. If you’ve got certain risk factors or your blood pressure is a little too high, for example, a regular swimming routine can put your stats back into a healthy range and help you enjoy better health for longer.
It’s very common for your flexibility and range of motion to decrease as you get older, particularly if you don’t exercise regularly. Without intervention, your range of motion could decrease in a short space of time, which may make it difficult to walk unaided or to get around your home.
When you’re swimming, the buoyancy of the water helps to support your weight and alleviates gravitational forces. As a result, you’re able to move more easily and with less effort. This ensures seniors can increase their flexibility and maintain or even improve their range of motion.
However, the benefits aren’t only present when you’re in the water. If you make swimming part of your routine, you’ll find that your range of motion and flexibility improves in other environments too.
Create a Regular Routine
When you’re retired, it’s important to have a hobby or interest. Not having to go to work every day can seem like a dream at first but a lack of routine can have a negative impact on your well-being. If you don’t have things to keep you busy and your mind occupied, for example, it can increase your risk of developing illnesses, such as depression.
Luckily, swimming is something you can do regularly, which means seniors can incorporate it into their weekly routine. When you’re living in a luxury retirement community with access to a heated pool, for example, swimming can be the highlight of your day! By incorporating into your routine, you can ensure that every day is filled with purpose.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Due to the associated risk factors, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight at any age. For seniors, however, it can be particularly challenging to lose weight or to avoid gaining weight. If your mobility decreases as you get older, for example, you may find it hard to walk for long distances or be unable to undertake weight-bearing exercises. As a result, it can be harder to burn calories, lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
However, swimming is one of the few low-impact exercises that actually burns a significant number of calories. An individual who weighs 150-pounds can burn 400 calories by swimming at a moderate pace for an hour, for example. If you swim three or four times a week, it’s easy to see how it can enable you to maintain a healthy weight.
Improved Mood and Outlook
Exercise is an effective way of enhancing your physical health, but it can have a transformative effect on your mental well-being too. When you’re physically active, your body releases ‘ feel-good hormones’ known as endorphins. These can boost your mood and make you feel happier, while the act of exercising can leave you feeling accomplished.
When you combine these benefits, it’s clear that regular exercise is an important way of taking care of your emotional health, as well as your physical well-being. Many seniors experience mental health problems, particularly if health issues have a major impact on their lifestyle or if they feel isolated. By swimming regularly, however, seniors can enhance their emotional health and enjoy a more positive outlook.
Increase Bone Density
It’s natural for bone density to decrease as we age, which is why seniors are most at risk from related conditions, such as osteoarthritis. Swimming can help to maintain muscle mass, but it can also help you to maintain your bone density. As a result, a regular swim could reduce your risk of developing osteoarthritis or osteoporosis.
In addition to this, maintaining healthy bone density can reduce your risk of sustaining injuries. If you have low bone density and you fall, for example, you may be more likely to break or fracture a bone. When you swim regularly and maintain a healthy bone density, however, you may be able to avoid these types of injuries.
Incorporating Swimming into Your Routine
Anyone who is thinking about starting a new fitness regime should always make an effort to consult their physician first. Once your doctor has confirmed that swimming will be a good type of exercise for you to try, you can begin to incorporate it into your regular routine.
Whether you choose to swim alone or attend a group class, there’s no doubt that it can be a great way to have fun and enhance your health. For seniors who want to increase their mobility, meet new people, or simply exercise regularly, swimming can be the ideal way to achieve your goals.