Splashing around with swim fins isn't just confined to the kiddie pool, as older swimmers around the globe take to the water. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), water workouts are perfect for older individuals because they provide a low-impact exercise that offers full body resistance training. Because the body is naturally lighter in the water, exercising in the pool is extremely gentle on your joints.
Before you get in the pool, make sure that you have the right equipment for an aquatic workout. You'll need a bathing suit and a pair of goggles if you plan on swimming underwater. If you are not a confident swimmer or do not know how to swim, you'll need a flotation jacket, flotation ring or floating pool noodle. Before diving into your exercise, be sure to spend five to 10 minutes warming your body up first. Walk or lightly jog in the shallow end of the pool or swim a few slow laps around the pool to get your muscles warmed up and your heart and lungs ready for exercise.
According to a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise in May 2007, elderly women who participated in a water-based exercise program saw a 20 percent increase in their agility and a 22 percent increase in their ability to climb stairs with ease when compared to women who performed the same exercises on land. Water aerobics routines are a great exercise choice for older swimmers who are looking for a low-impact workout that includes both cardiovascular, flexibility and strength training elements. If you are looking for a more challenging water aerobics exercise, consider deep water running using a flotation vest in the deep end of the pool.
If you are a confident swimmer, swimming laps around the pool not only strengthens your muscles, but supports your heart and respiratory health too. According the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, swimming workouts are also beneficial for maintaining balanced mental health. For total body health, try to get in the pool for four to five 30-minute sessions per week. During your workout, alternate between your favorite swimming strokes -- freestyle, backstroke, butterfly or breaststroke -- for a full body workout that includes all of the major muscle groups.
Tips and Considerations
Always swim with a lifeguard present. If you are not a confident swimmer or don't know how to swim, you're never too old to take swimming lessons. Bolstering your confidence in the pool could inspire you to try more challenging exercises in the water. Water exercises are recommended for older individuals and anyone suffering from injuries, arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia and degenerative disease, but it's always safe to check with your doctor before you start exercising in the pool.
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