Everybody knows that exercise is good for you. But as we grow older, we tend to exercise less. One reason is that our bodies start showing signs of wear and tear. Going for a run isn’t as fun as it used to be if your joints ache. Hopping on a bike can be risky if your balance is poor; even if your balance is good, inattentive drivers present a serious risk. Weightlifting is another option, but it’s easy to hurt yourself if you’re not careful.
Fortunately, swimming offers the aerobic benefits of jogging and the strength benefits of weightlifting without hurting your joints or straining your muscles. Let’s take a closer look at the health benefits of swimming for seniors.
Easy on the joints. Swimming offers a low-impact workout that’s easy on the joints. It’s why aquatic therapy is often used as part of your treatment when recovering from an injury. Water provides buoyancy, takes pressure off your joints, and allows you to exercise with less pain.
Improves cardiovascular health. If climbing stairs leaves you short of breath, jump into the pool. Swimming and water exercises will build your endurance, lower blood pressure, improve circulation and reduce the risk of heart attack. In other words, swimming could help you live longer and better. The health benefits of swimming showed a 41% lower risk of death due to heart disease and stroke in a study of over 80,000 people.
Builds strength. Older adults lose muscle mass as a normal result of aging. Swimming helps you regain mass and strength. Water is about 800 times denser than air, so the effort needed to overcome water resistance helps build strength. And unlike weight machines that target specific muscles, you can work more muscle groups at once by swimming.
Increases flexibility. The less you move, the stiffer you get. So the remedy is to get moving. Swimming and exercising in a pool, especially if it’s heated, make moving your joints and muscles easier. The same muscles and movements used in swimming can help you maintain flexibility, improve posture, lower your risk of back and neck issues, and prevent injuries.
Helps you relax. You know how good it feels to soak in a bath. Swimming offers the same stress-relieving benefits. The weightless feeling you get when floating in water helps relieve muscle stiffness and tightness. Swimming also allows you to disconnect from your phone and all the sensory information that bombards you during the day. You can focus on breathing and on each stroke. The benefits of swimming are like a form of meditation that puts you in an ideal mental space.
Boosts mental health. Swimming increases blood flow to the brain, which helps promote the growth of new brain cells. New cells help improve cognitive function. In other words, swimming could make you smarter. There’s even research that suggests neurogenesis (the process of developing new brain cells) may help protect against Alzheimer’s. Swimming also releases endorphins, feel-good hormones, that boost your mood and sense of well-being.
Get in the swim at Rolling Green Village.
You can experience all the health benefits of swimming at Rolling Green. Our Health and Wellness Center includes an indoor heated saltwater pool, along with a variety of swimming and aqua fitness classes to help you look and feel your best. To learn more, dive into our Wellness page.