In addition to a well-balanced diet, exercise is a crucial part in maintaining overall health and wellness. However, as a person ages, the exercise portion of the wellness puzzle can become increasingly difficult.
If you are looking for a low-impact activity for your aging loved one, aquatic exercise might be the perfect fit.
As the name might suggest, aquatic exercises are done in the water, which offers natural resistance to help strengthen muscles. A nice feature that can attract the aging population to this form of exercise is the fact that one doesn’t need to know how to swim in order to participate.
Aquatic exercise takes the pressure off of the muscles, joints and bones. As people begin to age, arthritis can be a main deterrent that keeps a person from participating in daily exercise. That’s why aquatic exercise is a great option – the workout is done in the buoyancy of the water, which helps to reduce the effects of gravity on the body. In fact, if a person exercises in water up to chest level, the amount of body weight he or she bears feels like only 25 to 35 percent of the true amount!
The Arthritis Foundation encourages aquatic exercise for those experiencing pain, because the water provides increased joint range of motion. Furthermore, this type of exercise helps to improve the cardiovascular system by increasing the heart rate, which enhances fitness while improving muscle strength and balance as the body stays in an upright position in a changing environment.
Three Additional Benefits of Aquatic Exercise:
Balance – As a person gets older, his or her balance may begin to decline, which increases the risk of falling. Aquatic exercises help in improving that balance. If the water is at least waist high, your loved one can build strength by working against unsettled water. Another added benefit is that he or she won’t have to worry about falling when working on coordination thanks to the buoyancy of the water, which creates an ideal environment for practice.
Endurance – This is where cardiovascular training comes into play. Exercises such as walking, kicking, lifting knees, dancing, hopping and jogging are all examples of endurance training. All of these activities done at a brisk pace will help to elevate breathing and heart rates. But performing them in the water significantly reduces the stress placed on the body.
Strength – After endurance training, strength training should follow. This type of workout should involve resistance exercises that can improve muscle tone. For instance, many pools have water dumbbells that are perfect for front and side arm curls and arm raises, which will help strengthen and tone the arm muscles and core.
All in all, aquatic exercise is a great option if your aging loved one cannot partake in other forms of exercise. Not only can this activity help to improve overall well-being, it also offers relief from symptoms of joint disease, circulatory problems and arthritis. As always, consult with your loved one’s physician before participating in any physical activity.