Low-Impact Sports: 6 Reasons Why Regular Swimming Sessions Are Important for Seniors
As people age, it becomes harder for them to retain muscle mass and stay in shape. The lack of exercise can also create other problems, such as the increased risk of injury and infection, decreased quality of life, and increased rates of depression. Read on to find out why low-impact sports like regular swimming sessions might provide the perfect solution.
Improved Mental Health
Before even discussing the physical benefits of low-impact sports like swimming, it’s worth taking a moment to discuss the mental benefits. Swimming reduces stress, boosts brain function, and can be a social activity. All of these factors make it a perfect form of exercise for avoiding problems with failure to thrive in the elderly.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Regular swimming sessions improve cardiovascular health and endurance. They lower blood pressure, improve circulation and make it easier to stay in shape. Since many seniors have an elevated risk of heart and lung disease, it’s important for them to take steps to improve their cardiovascular health. While many forms of exercise come with cardiovascular benefits, swimming is one of the few forms of exercise that provides a full-body workout without putting pressure on the hips, knees, or spine.
One recent study performed in Sydney, Australia shows that low-impact sports like regular swimming has much more of a positive impact on balance than regular walking. A good sense of balance doesn’t just make it easier for seniors to perform other physical activities. It also reduces the risks of falls. Although the study in Sydney only evaluated the impact of swimming on balance in elderly men, it’s very likely that elderly women can also improve their balance and reduce the risk of falls by going out for regular swims.
Improved Muscle Tone and Strength
It’s harder for older adults to retain and improve muscle tone and strength, which makes it more difficult for them to stay in shape. Swimming is a perfect way to increase strength without placing undue strain on joints since it takes advantage of people’s natural buoyancy. Add to that the fact that water provides more resistance than air, and it should be clear that swimming is a perfect way to create lean, healthy muscle mass.
Fitness experts often focus on the benefits of regular stretching for maintaining or improving flexibility across all age demographics, but less attention is given to swimming. Although it’s still important for seniors to stretch before and after a swimming session, the act of getting in the water and moving around can help to improve flexibility on its own, as well. This is especially true when seniors swim in warmer pools, which naturally stimulates blood circulation and relaxes muscles.
As people age, their metabolisms slow down. This leaves older adults at increased risk of obesity and related diseases like diabetes. An ideal workout for weight management balances weight training with cardiovascular exercise. Swimming offers a perfect mix of both. Plus, just one hour of light swimming can burn almost 400 calories.
The Bottom Line
Swimming is one of the best ways for people of all ages to get in shape, but it is uniquely beneficial to elderly populations. It helps older adults retain muscle mass, balance, and flexibility, boosts their moods, and, in the right circumstances, offers an excellent opportunity for socializing. Since it isn’t hard on the joints like other forms of cardiovascular exercise, there’s really no downside.