Each year, millions of seniors in the United States undertake an exercise program, but many struggles with the physical challenges of keeping up with an exercise routine. As a result, some turn to water aerobics, which combines the fun of swimming with the benefits of exercise.
In water aerobics classes, seniors can take shallow water walks or aqua jogs (treading water with a flutter kick) to build strength and cardiovascular endurance. They can also participate in gentle water calisthenics that makes use of the water’s resistance to build muscle strength.
What Is Water Aerobics And How It Helps Seniors?
What is water aerobics? It is a low-impact exercise in the form of movement and dance that is performed while in the water. It is similar to traditional aerobics, except that it is done in water. The water makes it easier to exercise for longer periods of time. Adjustments are not too strenuous or challenging.
What does water aerobics have to do with senior health? It turns out a lot!
A recent study found that the risk of cardiovascular disease drops 30% among regular water aerobics participants. Another study found that regular water aerobics participants were 38% less likely to experience symptoms of depression than those who did not participate.
Meanwhile, here are some of the specific benefits of water aerobics to the elderly.
It Improves Muscle Flexibility
If you are a senior who feels like their flexibility has taken a hit, you are not alone. Studies have shown that the natural aging process can contribute to a decline in flexibility over time, leaving many seniors with a diminished range of motion. So, what can be done? One option is to take up a water aerobics class. These classes are specifically designed for senior citizens and can help improve flexibility while also offering a fun way to exercise.
The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation reports that water aerobics for seniors is a low-impact and effective way to improve flexibility and overall health. The exercises in water aerobics are similar to their land-based counterparts in structure and intensity but are easier to perform for a number of reasons.
It Helps In Optimal Lung Function
Water aerobics has a myriad of health benefits–including strength-building and weight loss. However, one of the most surprising things about this exercise is that regular participation in it can help you breathe better. Small, controlled studies have shown that water aerobics can improve lung function in both young and older people. In one study, 14 sedentary, elderly women who exercised in a pool for 30 minutes, three days a week, for three months experienced significant improvement in their lung capacity.
It Alleviates Your Overall Fitness
Doing water aerobics is one way to keep your aging body in tip-top shape. From helping prevent falls to strengthening bones and improving balance, water aerobics can help improve your life quality in a number of ways. The buoyancy of the water helps the less-than-springy older body as it works to stay afloat, so there’s less pressure on joints and muscles.
The warm, clear water also helps to relieve arthritis symptoms and muscle pain. Also, the water helps to prevent and treat osteoporosis by improving bone density and strength. And finally, the buoyancy of the water helps your body to move gently and with less effort, which can make an important difference to your overall health and fitness.
It Maintains Bodily Balance
Water aerobics is an excellent way for seniors to improve their balance, strength, and flexibility. Adding this type of exercise to their routine can help prevent falls. In a new study, researchers at Long Island University looked at the benefits of water aerobics among the elderly. The study included 49 people between the ages of 55 and 80. Some of the participants attended water aerobics classes, while others did not. After six weeks, those attending the classes showed an average of 30 percent improvement in balance and a 32 percent improvement in lower-body strength.
It Eases Stress And Anxiety
If you’re looking for a way to ease the stress of daily living, try joining a water aerobics class. According to a study conducted at a large New England university, water aerobics can help relieve stress and anxiety in seniors. The study, which was published in the November 2011 issue of the journal Health Psychology, revealed that seniors who participated in water aerobics for six weeks saw their anxiety levels decrease by almost 50 percent.