Water Aerobics for Seniors
Staying active is the best way to maintain mobility and health as you age. But doing enough physical activity to keep fit while avoiding injury from falls can be a challenge. Plus, arthritis and achy joints that don’t work as they once did make it hard to take a walk or incorporate strength exercises into a daily routine.
Water aerobics for seniors can be the perfect solution to this dilemma. The buoyancy of the water helps reduce the pressure and stress on joints. Water also acts as a form of resistance, so strength exercises can be performed in the water without heavy weights.
Water aerobics is one of the most therapeutic activities seniors can take part in and boasts many physical benefits, including:
- Increases flexibility
- Improves heart and lung function
- Builds strength with gentle resistance from the water
- Helps with balance and reduces the risk of falling
- Relieves joint pain as well as symptoms of arthritis and blood circulatory problems
- Increases metabolism
There are psychological and social benefits to water exercises for seniors as well. They gain a sense of well-being and accomplishment, are more engaged in community activities, and they tend to not lose their independence because they’re more physically fit.
If you have access to a pool, try adding the following pool exercises to your weekly workout routine.
This is a great low-impact exercise to get your heart rate up. It can be performed with or without a kickboard. With a kickboard, hold it out in front of you and flutter kick your legs to propel yourself back and forth across the pool. If a kickboard isn’t available, perform a front float with your head above water while holding onto the side of the pool and flutter kick your legs. Whichever way you do it, kick at a steady tempo that doesn’t tire you too quickly but also gets the heart pumping.
Find a spot in the pool where the water reaches your chest. Standing straight, extend your arms and legs as far as possible in a marching motion. Keep your toes pointed and move your arms with energy. Aim for a rhythmic march and keep a steady pace as you continue to go back and forth across the pool. The exercise can be made easier by moving to shallower water.
This exercise uses the resistance of the water to work all the muscles in the legs. Stand in the pool and lift one leg out to the side and back down. Repeat until your leg feels tired, then switch legs and perform the exercise on the other leg. Not only does this exercise work the legs, but it also improves balance and strengthens your core.
Standing water pushups
These are a great way to build arm, chest and shoulder strength without putting too much pressure on the joints. Stand along the side of the pool and place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on the gutter or edge of the pool. Bend your arms and lean in toward the wall, then push yourself back out. Repeat this exercise slowly until your arms feel tired.
Stand in the middle of the pool with water weights. Water weights don’t have to be used but they offer extra resistance. Hold the weights in front of you, arms in front with palms facing out. Curl the weights up, and then back down, and repeat until fatigued. Arm curls can also be performed with the palms facing toward you, like a conventional bicep curl exercise.
Find an area along the edge of the pool where the water reaches your neck. Standing next to the edge of the pool will help you catch your balance if necessary. Stand with one foot in front of you and one foot behind you. Lift your arms out to the side until they are just below the surface of the water. Keep your arms straight with your palms down and move your arms in a circular motion. Continue moving for 10-15 seconds in one direction, then repeat in the other direction.
Aqua jogging can be as simple as jogging through the water from one side of the pool to the other. This exercise can also be modified to walking back and forth in the pool or jogging or marching in place. Aqua jogging is designed to get the heart rate up and keep it up, so whichever modification you choose, be sure it’s at least a little challenging.
For a good aerobic workout, complete the pool exercises above in three- to five-minute increments for a total of 20 to 25 minutes per session. This can be done up to five times each week. As with any workout, keep these safety tips in mind: be aware of your limits, never do water aerobics alone, and speak with your doctor about how your medications and overall fitness mesh with water aerobics.
Meadow Ridge offers an array of healthy activities designed to empower your personal pursuit of health and wellness, including multiple water exercise classes for seniors in our pool. Learn more about how Meadow Ridge supports healthy living and wellness in every dimension here.