Exercising in water can be a very healthy activity for anyone, but seniors seem to benefit especially from exercising in water. The water helps compensate for poor balance and eases the impact on painful joints. Water exercise also may help boost metabolism. Here are seven great water exercises for seniors.
Remember, always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program or regimen.
1. Swimming Laps
Sometimes, we forget the simple approach – just swimming laps is excellent exercise. It raises your heart rate and doesn’t impact your joints. Even if you don’t know a lot of fancy strokes, just moving through the water regularly for 30 minutes or so is excellent exercise. Your whole body is involved!
Water aerobics are a wonderful way for seniors to get aerobic exercise without fear of falling or coming down too hard on their joints. When you join a water aerobics class, you don’t have to worry about thinking up exercises; just follow the instructor. Taking a class has the added benefit of social time as well.
Using a kickboard or holding to the side of the pool, you can do flutter kicks. If you’re using a kickboard, you can do laps and measure your progress.
4. Water Jogging
Jogging in the water adds resistance and takes the pressure off your joints. The deeper the water, the more calories you burn, sources say. Just jog in the water like you would on land, but it will feel a lot different. Some people like to wear a buoyancy belt when they water jog.
Doing squats in water is especially helpful for those who have trouble with joint stress on land. It works best in water that’s waist or chest-deep. Putting your hands on the side of the pool, squat with your feet shoulder-width apart. The water will come up to your neck. Then stand back up and repeat up to 40 times.
6. Pushing/Pulling Weight
Using weights in the water is another option to add to your water exercise routine. Hold waterproof dumbbells, one in each hand. Push the right dumbbell forward in the water while pulling back the left one, and vice versa. Repeat up to 40 sets. If you like, add your legs to the exercise and step forward with the corresponding leg when you push your arm forward.
7. Stand on Tip-Toe
For those with arthritis or other joint problems, this exercise can help build and tone muscles in the lower leg. Standing in chest-deep water, hold to the side of the pool and rise up on your toes and back down. Repeat 30 or 40 times. It’s just like standing on tip-toe on land, but with less weight on the joints.
Seniors can benefit a great deal from water exercise. If you have any questions and concerns, check with a trainer or instructor at your local YMCA or gym. And of course, get the okay from your doctor or health care professional before you start.