The popularity of senior water exercises is increasing as more people learn of the health benefits the aquatic activities provide.
What are Water Exercises for Senior Citizens?
Most water exercises are similar to activities that people perform when they work out on land. There are many different types of physical activities that make up water exercise programs ranging from general aquatic exercise classes to water aerobics.
It is just as important when exercising in the water as it is when exercising on land to warm up your muscles by doing a series of stretching exercises before beginning your water exercise program. The exercise program should also end with a set of cool-down exercises.
Water Exercises and Activities
Some of the following types of exercises and activities are often performed as part of a water exercise program, while others are specific types of water exercise classes:
- Jumping jacks
- Side bends
- Cross country ski movements
- Walking in place
- Jogging in place
- Running in place
- Tai Chi
- Movements for strength training
Exercising in Water
Exercising in water eliminates much of the joint and muscle pain many seniors feel when they exercise. When a person is in the water, there is less strain placed on his or her body, and the water buoyancy helps to support weight. The water also reduces the impact that movements have on bones and joints.
The water also provides more resistance than the air does during land exercises. In general, water exercise programs provide the same health benefits, in less time, than exercise programs done out of the water.
Add more fun to your water exercise program by playing music or using props such as:
- Kick boards
- Beach balls
- Hand paddles
- Styrofoam Dumballs
The Benefits of Senior Water Exercises
Seniors experience many health benefits associated with water exercise.
- Improves overall cardiovascular health
- Deep breathing increases oxygen absorption
- Reduces cholesterol levels
- Increases freedom of movement
- Increases metabolism
- Increases strength
- Increase range of motion
- Increases muscle tone
- Improves balance
- Improves flexibility
- Improves agility
- Improves posture
- Builds lean muscle resulting in stronger bones
- Slows the loss of muscle mass that occurs with aging
- Slows the decreased reaction time that occurs with aging
- Reduces the risk of falling during an exercise program
- Reduces the risk of an exercise related injury
- Reduces the risk of becoming overheated when exercising
- Reduces stress levels
- Seniors are engaged with others
- Seniors generally feel better about themselves
- Increases overall physical fitness
- Decreases arthritis pain and stiffness
- Warm water dilates blood vessels increasing blood flow and circulation
Water Exercise and the Arthritis Foundation
According to the Arthritis Foundation, water exercises are very beneficial for many seniors with arthritis and related conditions. Throughout the country, the Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program is conducted at many pools. To find out if there is a program in your area, contact your local chapter of the Arthritis Foundation. An office directory of the local chapters is provided on the foundation's website.
A Few Words of Caution
- Before starting any type of exercise program it is always best to check with your doctor to discuss the program and if it is safe for your medical condition.
- If you are using a backyard pool, hot tub or spa for your water exercises, make sure there is someone nearby in case you need assistance getting in or out of the water or during your exercise program.
- If you have arthritis or other joint problems, the optimum temperature of pool water is between 85 - 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Make sure to drink plenty of fluids. It is possible to become dehydrated even though you are in water.
- --Taking part in senior water exercises is an excellent way to improve your overall health, relax and have fun.