You can’t always be there. But we can.
Even the most active elders have to make modifications to how they get exercise, and many are turning to swimming. With the support of family caregivers and others that take part in elderly care, elderly loved ones can reap the benefits of physical exercise in one of the safest and most supportive ways. Exercise at any age can strengthen core muscles, boost cardiovascular performance, increase flexibility and even improve mental health. Swimming is a fun, low-impact activity that is ideal for elders of all abilities.
Why Swimming is Ideal for the Elderly
The reason swimming is ideal for the elderly is because it strengthens and supports an aging body much better than other traditional exercises. Walking, biking, aerobics and more all come with the risk of falling because many seniors don’t have the core strength to correct themselves if they get off balance. In the water, the elderly don’t have to worry about hard falls and the resulting injuries.
Swimming also provides excellent resistance when exercising, so the elderly can maximize every movement to their benefit. Finally, swimming is gentle on the joints and muscles, saving them from high-impact activities that could cause strain and open the elderly up to injury.
5 Swimming Exercises for the Elderly
Seniors don’t need to swim endless laps to get health benefits of exercising in the water. There are plenty of exercises they can do as well as swimming. It’s recommended that seniors use a swim belt (a simple adult flotation device) to help keep them upright.
1. Water Walking
The act of walking through the water provides plenty of resistance, which builds up muscles and helps with balance. Seniors need to head to where the water is about waist deep and walk back and forth across the pool. Swinging the arms with cupped hands will provide even more resistance.
2. Leg Lifts
With their back to the side of the pool and their arms on the edges, seniors can lift their right knee as high as they can, lower it and then raise their left knee and lower it. These leg lifts not only work all the leg muscles, but strengthen the core as well.
3. Leg Swings
Standing next to the edge of the pool in waist-deep water, elders can hold onto the wall with one hand, as if using a ballet barre. They can swing one leg forward as far as they can, then sweep it back as far as they can. Repeat 10 times and then switch legs.
4. Water Weights
If the public pool doesn’t supply foam water weights, they are easy to find in stores and online. These handheld foam weights are used for the arms during water workouts. Seniors simply need to push the weight down from the surface to their side using one arm, then bringing it up again. After 10 times, they can switch arms.
5. Pool Pushups
The elderly stand along the edge of the pool in chest-deep water with their hands on the wall. Then, they bend their arms and lean forward, letting their arms support their body weight. Pushing back out completes one pool pushup. The elderly should do as many of these as they can before they feel tired out.
There are plenty of advantages when the elderly are active at the local swimming pool. Family caregivers should consider implementing regular swimming exercises as part of an overall elderly care plan to keep their aging loved ones fit and strong.