It might seem like meek and mellow activities like crochet or bird watching are the only sports that eldery can participate in. While it is true that time has whittled away parts of their youth and energy, it does not mean they should be confined indoors.
Swimming is a great sport for senior citizens to take part in as it allows them to enjoy a plethora of health benefits without straining their bodies.
Health benefits of swimming
Swimming improves their cardiovascular health and endurance and lowers blood pressure. Of course, most sports provide the same results, but swimming is gentler on their joints.
“The buoyancy of the water allows you to move limbs and joints more easily through their normal range of motion. This helps joints remain supple and improves overall flexibility,” explains Sarah Ellison, an aquatic physical therapist with Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Network.
On that note, swimming increases flexibility as it stretches your neck, back, arms and legs. Not only does this improve one’s posture, it’s great for those who are suffering from back pain.
Swimming also improves muscle strength and tone as well as bone density. This is because your body experiences water resistance as you move in the water, strengthening your muscles. Furthermore, it improves bone mineral density which is vital for seniors who are more susceptible to osteoporosis.
According to American Senior Communities, “a third of women over the age of 50 and a fifth of men experience a bone fracture due to osteoporosis.”
Mental benefits of swimming
Aside from the physical aspect, swimming also boosts one’s mental health. For starters, swimming can be a group activity for senior citizens to take part in together, giving them an opportunity to catch up and bond as they exercise.
In addition, swimming alone has the capacity to reduce stress levels and brighten up your mood too.
Types of swimming exercises
Obviously, regular swimming is the most effective form as it engages in most parts of the body and their cardiovascular system. However, those who are not in condition to swim or do not know how to can try these following exercises.
You can try water resistance exercises such as arm curls, leg swings and calf-raises. Simply submerge your entire body up to your neck into the water and swing your joints slowly. For example, for arm curls, swing both arms from your thighs to your chest. You should feel a slight resistance around your biceps.
This is the equivalent of strength-training exercises with weights. But as mentioned earlier, using water as resistance is more gentle on the bones.
Lastly, engage in water relaxation to focus on lowering heart rate, stress and blood stress like aqua yoga and pilates.