There are a many reasons why swimming and water-based exercise may be the best choice for seniors. Water based exercises are second only to walking in lowest rates for injuries. They are commonly used for physical therapy modes for those recovering from major surgery.
Water also provides more options for those who are lacking in general fitness or have a prior injury that makes land based activity difficult. Finally, water based activities work the entire body, serving as a form of both strength training even as aerobic training takes place.
Swimming utilizes nearly all major muscle groups simultaneously, imparting a total body work out. Because of the inherent resistance of the water, swimming develops both muscle strength and endurance, as well as helps flexibility.
Swimming provides almost all of the aerobic benefits of running and many of the benefits of resistance training. Because swimming does not put the strain on connective tissues that running, aerobics and some weight-training regimens do, swimming is the kind of low-impact work out that is perfect for seniors seeking to regain or maintain their fitness.
This is a sport especially gentle to those who are physically challenged. The buoyancy factor of water makes swimming the most injury-free exercise available. So it is specifically interesting to seniors, especially those with any type of joint issues. In water, a person’s body weight is reduced by 90% as compared to its weight on land. For example, a 220 pound man will weigh about 22 pounds if he is standing in chin deep water.
Exercises in water can also be done more often because of the low incidence of injuries and it is more effective for exercising the entire body as any movement in water has 12 times greater resistance than movement in air.
For the elderly, water fitness is safe, fills the need for exercise, increases a body’s range of motion and is a low-impact exercise.