It’s no secret that swimming is beneficial when it comes to seniors because it helps bone density, strength, cardiovascular health, weight control, and overall fitness. However few people are aware of the importance of exercises for balance for seniors and why swimming is considered #1.
As a matter of fact, The American Journal of Epidemiology completed a study that should make all seniors break out the swimming trunks and head to the pool.
Their study states that swimming and water exercises can play a big part in reducing the chances of a senior falling.
Check out this video that features Balance Exercises for Seniors at Home.
The reason for this is that swimming improves balance and strengthens core muscles. During their study, they compared several types of physical activities seniors might be involved and found that swimming was most effective in preventing falls.
FALLS CAN BE DEVASTATING FOR SENIORS
More and more attention is being given to the seriousness of falls for sniors as it has become a major cause of injury and even death.
The problem with falling, is that it can happen anywhere. It can happen well going out for a walk, in the supermarket, or more often than not, in the home itself while simply doing house cleaning.
Often, the bathtub and bathroom floor are the biggest culprits. Even more alarming is that many seniors live alone.
In some cases they are unable to get up and might be there for days until someone decides to check up on them.
THE BENEFITS OF SWIMMING
It’s one thing to be aware of the problem, but another thing altogether to get seniors into the pool. Many seniors think they are too old to swim or to learn how to swim.
Of course, that’s a million miles of the truth. You are never too old to learn how to swim and you are never too old to benefit from it.
Swimming is the perfect conditioner as it’s a no impact exercise and doesn’t stress muscles and joints. Walking is an excellent exercise for seniors, but swimming is more conducive to improving overall strength in the core and lower body. These improvements are critical for balance and are instrumental in preventing falls.
Swimming is excellent for seniors who have limits to the physical activity they can do. Many will resort to just walking for fitness, but would show greater gains in overall fitness if they incorporated regular swimming sessions into their fitness routine.
Even is a senior can’t swim, exercises like aquasize(sometimes called water aerobics) or water jogging will also make a big difference. For the uninitiated, water jogging is doing the walking or jogging motion with a flotation belt around the waist. You don’t ever touch the bottom of the pool, so there is zero impact to jar the knees or spine.
It adds plenty of resistance because water is twelve times denser than air. The faster you go, the more resistance from the water and the more it builds up muscle strength. Swimming and other water exercises are great for those recovering from injury as well.
HOW DOES SWIMMING IMPROVE BALANCE?
Most people might not realize they have a serious balance problem until they start falling on a regular basis. It’s a warning call of sorts and time to take action if regular instances of falling happen to you. After all, it should be a source of concern, especially if you are a senior.
Seniors simply don’t bounce back from injuries as quickly as they did in their younger years. If you break bones, suffer head trauma, or have to deal with seemingly smaller injuries as a senior as a result of a fall, mobility, and quality of life can be greatly impacted.
It’s a startling statistic that seniors who swim and take part in water exercises have a 33% less chance of falling than seniors who don’t.
It’s natural, that as we age we lose muscle mass and strength. That’s why weight training and swimming are both exercises that go a long way to increasing muscle strength in seniors.
Swimming is an excellent all-around exercise as it works practically every muscle in the body including the heart. It also improves cardiovascular function which means it makes the heart capable of pumping blood more efficiently.
SWIMMING AND FLEXIBILITY
Swimming is ideal for those seniors who want to avoid added stress on their body, but at the same time want to improve their fitness.
Swimming involves the use of a myriad of muscles that move together in synchronization and in an extensive range of motion and as a result, allows the joints to become very loose and flexible. This is vital for improving overall balance. It also reduces back pain, and helps coordinate and will improve posture.
This added flexibility goes a long way toward preventing injury. The warm water of a pool is especially helpful in relaxing the muscles and stimulating blood flow. This, in turn, reduces stress on the body and allows the joints to move easily.
For those looking for a way to exercise without pain or stress, swimming might just be the answer. As with any exercise routine, swimming will work much better as a physical conditioner if it is practiced on a regular basis.
At least thirty minutes a day, three times a week would be an ideal goal for making a big difference in overall health and conditioning.
Much like Yoga and Tai Chi, swimming will decrease muscle tension and at the same time will promote relaxation.
THINK YOU ARE TOO OLD TO SWIM?
I truly believe that there are few exercise people are too old for. Perhaps people convince themselves that they are too old to lift weights, run, or swim. Maybe they think it’s just for younger people. My theory is, many aspects of training are for seniors who are young at heart and don’t let age stop them.
Kind of like Sister Madonna Buder who finished the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run that constitutes the distances of the Ironman Triathlon when she was a very spry 80 years old! That’s an athletic performance that should inspire seniors everywhere.
Speaking of inspiring seniors.
The video you about to watch is nothing short of astounding.
At 94 years old, Paul Lurie took his first Total Immersion lesson.
In eight 30-minute lessons totaling four hours of instruction, Paul developed an amazing swim stroke.
For those of you who think it’s too late in life to learn how to swim efficiently and with confidence, watch this video and view 62-year-old Total Immersion creator Terry Laughlin and 95-year-old rookie swimmer Paul Lurie swimming in sync, side-by-side and see if you can tell who is who.
Interested in swimming like 94-year-old Paul? Total Immersion is one of the best swimming programs in the world to learn how to swim relaxed and efficiently. They have helped many people who have struggled in the water.
Check them out. They may have a DVD swim program or book that can really help improve your swimming technique or learn how to swim if you are just starting out.
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