Life can be complicated and challenging at any age, but seniors face a special set of issues all their own. In a world where someone is always throwing medicine at you for ailments, consider the many benefits of swimming. It’s 100 per cent natural, enjoyable, healthy and in many cases, free or it costs very little!
- You reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis. Decreased bone density affects millions of post-menopausal women (and men) and leaves them vulnerable to numerous arthritic conditions, including osteoporosis. However, since swimming improves bone health, you put yourself in a better position with respect to mineral density, potential fractures and osteoporosis.
- Working out in water strengthens you. Age naturally weakens your body, but you can counteract the force of nature by strength training with water aerobics. Manage your weight, chronic pain, diabetes and other complications of aging, by forging a stronger body through swimming.
- Swimming gives you more brain power. Protect your thinking skills and sharpen your memory with regular exercise. Science has repeatedly proven the value of staying active to the brain.
- Your heart is healthier. Over 80 percent of seniors are affected by heart disease and swimming gives you a measure of direct control over your heart health, by boosting circulation and lowering your blood pressure, two very important elements of cardio health.
- It doesn’t hurt to swim. While most seniors realise the importance of exercise, sometimes it just hurts to work out. Fortunately, your body is buoyant in water, and that takes much of the work off your joints, leaving you free to enjoy swimming with low-impact, enjoyable range of motion.
- Muscles are toned. The stronger your muscles are, the more they can support your skeletal structure and that gives your body a hand-in-hand balance with the workload. While swimming is easy on the joints, it still tones your muscles due to the density (resistance) of water.
- You alleviate the pressure of stress. At any age, stress is dangerous and often difficult to filter out of life, however, swimming is a way to de-stress both physically and mentally – a highly valuable combination. Ease physical tension as the water soothes stress, anxiety and other ailments of the soul.
- You become more flexible. As aging robs you of mobility and agility, swimming gives it back. Because your entire body gets in on the act of swimming, your neck, shoulders, arms, hips and legs all benefit.
- Swimming enhances your quality of life. People are generally happy in water and it doesn’t take a neuroscientist to understand the benefits of being happy on your quality of life. Having more to look forward to makes every day more interesting, and having something you truly enjoy doing in your life (that happens to be very healthy for you!) will constantly elevate your spirits.
- Socialising is healthy for you. Whether you visit a pool and encounter laughing children or stroll a beach in search of a welcoming swimming spot, you’re going to be meeting people and studies prove that’s invaluable to your health. Seniors who are social suffer with less chronic pain, fewer disease-related complications and they actually live longer, too.
- Swimming improves balance. You have so much at stake with your equilibrium: If it’s off, especially often, you’re at risk for falling, have difficulty navigating any terrain and may even face the threat of having to leave your own home. An Australian study showed seniors who swim fall due to balance issues an impressive 53 per cent less than those who don’t partake of the water! Imbalance is your enemy and swimming allows you to fight it effectively.
- It’s just plain fun!
Are there any potential problems associated with swimming?
While no one can tell you what to do (and isn’t that nice?), there are precautionary measures you should take to ensure your total safety while swimming:
- Seek your doctor’s approval. Any exercise can pose problems for a senior, particularly if you have any lingering injuries or issues.
- Know the waters. Unless you’re delving into a clear blue pool, you may not be aware of hidden rocks, sudden drop-offs or even creatures lurking beneath the surface, especially in the ocean. You should probably start in a public swimming pool. We are so lucky in Australia that there are amazing swimming pools available to general public in most areas.
- Take it slow. Despite all the promise swimming holds, your efforts are counterproductive if you push your limits to the point of injury.
- Consider a swimming partner. While swimming alone offers you a very peaceful experience, it might be dangerous in some instances, regardless of age.
It’s no exaggeration to say that swimming can change your life. With all these benefits, you really have no excuse not to welcome these positive changes and enjoy all that swimming can do for you.
Do you swim? If so, why?