If you’re an older American and trying to get fit, you may want to consider going for a swim. In fact, swimming may be one of the best exercises for seniors out there.
Swimming is Low Impact
We’ve discussed how low-impact (intensity) workouts are good for seniors in “Jogging Turns Back Your Clock,” but what exactly does that mean? Well, a low-impact workout is one that is easier on your bones and joints. An exercise like running puts a lot of direct force on your joints. While some high-impact exercises can be good for your bones, it can be painful for many.
So, what does this have to do with swimming? Swimming is an incredibly effective low-impact workout. It has even been called a no-impact workout. The weightless quality of buoyancy that swimming gives us eliminates much of the impact that we would otherwise put on our bodies. Injured athletes and people with arthritis or disabilities often recover or exercise with swimming or water aerobics.
Full-Body Workout for Burning Fat
While swimming may be easy on the body in one sense, it’s a thorough workout in another. If you’ve ever gone for a long swim, you’ll know just how tired you feel afterward. That’s because swimming is a full-body exercise. It targets every major muscle group in your body. Think about it. Your standard stroke, freestyle, requires your legs, arms, and core extensively. Each stroke works out a handful of muscles, making it one of the most efficient workouts.
Swimming has proven very effective at burning calories and fat. This full-body workout has been called the “perfect storm of calorie burn[ing] and muscle recruitment.” Swimming combines the calorie and fat burning benefits of aerobic exercise and the toning and muscle-building effects of strength training. So, if you’re looking to sculpt your figure and lose some weight, hop in the pool!
Great for Your Heart and Lungs
Swimming is great for more than your outward appearance. Among the multitude of benefits of exercising in water is the benefits to your heart and lungs. Swimming can improve heart contractility, which makes it more efficient at pumping blood. In turn, this increases the supply of oxygenated blood throughout the body. Swimming has also been linked to lower blood pressure.
There’s also a link between swimmers and better lung capacity, which research has shown can help prevent cardiovascular disease. Swimmers have also been shown to process oxygen more efficiently.
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Swimming can be a powerful option for seniors to get in shape without the pain that high-impact can cause. The biggest hurdle for many is access to a pool. Luckily, if you’re in a residential care facility, there’s a good chance your community may have a pool. Another option is to sign up at your local YMCA, which often have pools and aquatic fitness programs. You can also search for local pools that you can join. With all that in mind, hop in! The water’s great.