You know that regular exercise is an important step in total wellness— keeping you active and independent in your senior living— but you just can’t find the right activity. A senior fitness program that’s easy and fits into your daily routine. Yoga seems daunting, even when you’re sitting in a chair, and too much walking makes your joints ache.
If this sounds familiar, then water aerobics just might be for you.
Aquatic Senior Fitness
Water aerobics put less of a strain on your body than land-based activities do thanks to the natural buoyancy of water. It’s safe for seniors of all abilities, carrying a lower risk of injury and pain normally associated with other forms of exercise.
In fact, water aerobics may just be the best way for older adults to exercise—especially for seniors who suffer from arthritis or other physically inhibiting conditions like vertigo or osteoporosis. The Aquatic Program by the Arthritis Foundation, in partnership with the YMCA, has shown that older adults who regularly attend water aerobics classes have experienced:
- Less pain
- Improved joint function and flexibility
- Increased muscle strength and coordination
- General well-being and an improved senior living experience
- Better social engagement and a decrease in feelings of isolation
What water aerobics can do for you:
Because water is buoyant and has higher resistance than air, water aerobics is a great way to improve your balance and strengthen and tone muscles. Plus, like more strenuous activities land-based activities, it can help you lose weight, reduce your stress, and prevent other chronic conditions.
What to wear:
Any swimsuit will do, but we recommend a suit that doesn’t ride up when you walk. Wearing water shoes or water resistant sneakers will help give you better grip and keep you from scraping your feet, but check to make sure your pool doesn’t have rules on footwear in the pool.
Tips for first-timers: Choosing the right class is essential to get the workout that’s right for you. You don’t want a class that’s too easy or too difficult. Find out if your local YMCA offers classes designed for senior fitness.
You can join a class or jump right in and try a few simple exercises at the local pool this summer.
Water walking is one of the easiest and safest exercises for beginners, especially if you start out in the shallow end.
What you need:
Forget wading pools and bodies of water. Currents in lakes and oceans can be dangerous, and kiddie pools aren’t deep enough. You need still water that is at least waist high to get the right impact. You can move to the deep end of the pool if you want a more challenging workout, but don’t forget your flotation belt. It will help keep you upright as you exercise.
How it works:
As you stand upright in the pool, with shoulders back and your arms bent slightly at your sides, slowly take a step forward. Set your foot down flat on the pool just as you would if you were walking on dry land, heel to toe.
Increase difficulty as you progress:
You can modify your routine as water walking becomes easier. To add intensity, lift your knees higher as you step or try using hand weights designed for the pool.
Older adults who can’t swim should never try water aerobics without an instructor present. Safety is the first priority of any good instructor. A certified instructor can help you reap the benefits of water aerobics without putting yourself in danger.
You should always speak to your healthcare provider before beginning a senior fitness routine, especially if you are starting out from a sedentary lifestyle or suffer from chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure.