For older adults, the danger of falling and breaking a bone (or suffering some other kind of injury) is a risk that has to be addressed. Falls often lead to a loss of independence or mobility, which can, in turn, lead to quick health declines in other areas. As a result, many seniors will ease up on physical activity as they continue to age, cutting activities like biking, running, jogging, and eventually even going for walks out of their daily schedules. In such scenarios, swimming is a great activity for seniors to get involved with. By swimming, older adults can stay physically active?keeping themselves fit, strong, and energetic?without the risk of falls or the injuries they cause. Here are five more reasons that swimming for health is the best exercise for older adults:
- Improved Heart Health
- Less Joint Pain
- Better Bone Density
- Enhanced Flexibility
- Superior Balance
- A Healthy Mind
Improved Heart Health
Any form of exercise the gets the blood moving and the heart pumping can help to prevent heart disease. As an aerobic sport, swimming provides those benefits without the consequences that some other forms of aerobic exercise can have for the body. In addition, swimming is a great way to burn calories and lose weight, which can help to eliminate a lot of the strain that is being put on the heart and blood vessels in the first place.
Less Joint Pain
Running, walking, tennis, and other aerobic sports offer heart health benefits, as mentioned above. However, all of these activities put a certain amount of strain on the joints?particularly the knees, the hips, and the joints in the spine. Even older adults who still can run without too much risk often have to deal with considerable joint pain the next day. The weightlessness of being in the water and swimming takes the strain off the joints?allowing seniors to enjoy the benefits of aerobic exercise without any of its typical disadvantages.
Better Bone Density
As discussed at the beginning of this article, most seniors stop exercising on a regular basis due to fears of falling and suffering serious injury. Ironically, exercising is one of the only things that can preserve bone density?thereby making breaks or fractures less likely. Swimming for health is a good way for seniors to keep their bones strong and protect themselves from falls?all without risking a fall during the exercise itself.
Staying sedentary, particularly for older adults, tends to result in stiffness and loss of flexibility. The combination of reduced flexibility and lowered bone density is dangerous because it greatly increases the chances of injury. Older adults who make a habit of getting in the pool and moving around a bit once or twice a week will stay flexible and enhance the strength of their muscles?not only reducing the odds of injury but also eliminating the stiffness and soreness that tend to plague seniors as they continue to age.
It might seem strange to associate balance with a sport that occurs in the water, but swimming actually can improve an older adult's balance. Swimming strengthens the legs and the core muscles, not only enhancing flexibility, but also leading to superior balance on land. And of course, better balance helps to reduce the likelihood of falls even further.
A Healthy Mind
Studies have shown that older adults who continue to engage in hobbies and activities?or who maintain regular interactions with friends and family?live longer and happier lives. This boost in health is largely psychologically based. Seniors who feel lonely, isolated, bored, or disengaged tend to see a quicker decline in mental health, just because there isn't as much to live for. By giving seniors a regular activity, a chance to exercise, and a social opportunity all in one, swimming is perfect for boosting mood, lowering stress, eliminating feelings of loneliness, and improving mental health.
Get Involved with Swimming Today!
Whether you are looking for a new physical activity for yourself or an elderly loved one, swimming is clearly a great option. The health benefits of this sport are numerous, and with the risk of injury virtually diminished to zero, there's no reason not to try swimming. Do a Google search or check your local business listings today to find public pools or senior swimming courses in your area!