Going for a Summer Swim: 5 Benefits for Seniors
Few forms of exercise are as equally fun and beneficial as swimming. For most of us, it’s probably one of the first activities we’re taught as children: How to orient our bodies in the water, and how to stay afloat as well as swim below the surface. Consequently, it’s a past-time for adults that evokes childhood memories of summer days spent at the lake or local pool. Whether you’re a casual swimmer or prefer more structured water activities like water aerobics and lap swimming, it’s a fun activity that offers numerous payoffs, especially for more seasoned members of the population.
Limited Impact on Bones and Joints
Swimming is one of the lowest impact forms of exercise. It’s a non-weight-bearing activity, and as such, it takes much of the pressure off the structural framework of your body, i.e., your bones. It can also provide some relief from symptoms like arthritis or fibromyalgia.
Reduces Risk of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is the progressive brittleness of bones and affects around 200 million people worldwide. The general cause is nutrient depletion with normal aging, which decreases bone density and makes them more prone to breakage. So, how does swimming help? It causes you to use your muscles, and when you use your muscles, they pull against the bones to which they are attached. Your muscles place stress on your bones as they pull them to move the parts of your body. It’s this stress that improves bone density which ultimately reduces the risk of fractures.
Improves Cardiovascular Health
Just 30 minutes per day of mild to moderate exercise such as swimming can have a positive effect on cardiovascular health. Regular cardiovascular activity for the body is like routinely servicing the engine on a car. It leads to a reduced risk of multiple chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.
Improves Balance and Stability
Swimming calls almost all the muscles in the body into action at once, particularly muscles in the core, upper body, and legs. Strengthening these areas improves one’s stability and reduces fall risks.
In 2008, the University of California San Francisco conducted a study evaluating loneliness in the elderly population. The results indicated that roughly 43% of older adults that were surveyed felt lonely. That’s nearly half!
Organized swimming activities for seniors provide a much-needed outlet for social interaction and a sense of community and belonging. Especially since it’s an easier activity for older adults with physical ailments to participate in, it gives those who would normally be even more isolated a chance to get out with friends and get moving.
While swimming has many benefits, everything is best in moderation, and there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Make sure you consult with your physician and get clearance for this kind of physical activity.
Swimming is a great way to keep the body moving for all ages, especially the elderly population due to its numerous health benefits. The more you do, the more you can continue to do, and the more you’ll be able to participate in your life as you age.
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