As we age, exercise becomes more important for keeping strong and healthy. Unfortunately, high-impact fitness like running can aggravate health issues that arise later in life (i.e. osteoporosis). For this reason, swimming offers a multitude of benefits other exercises cannot match. It’s one of the only exercises that immediately relieves joint stress and lessens muscle tension.
Balance, Posture and Flexibility
One in three adults above the age of 65 experience a yearly fall. While many of these incidents result in little trauma, some do lead to serious injuries and fractures. Because of the growing concern over falling seniors, researchers in Australia recently studied the effects of swimming on balance. The results: swimmers are 33% less likely to fall compared to those who participate in other fitness activities.
Swimming improves coordination and flexibility in both the upper and lower regions of the body. On average, swimming increases strength:
- 27% in the quadriceps,
- 40% in the hamstrings,
- And 10% in the upper body.
Such improvements affect what researchers call “postural sway”—how much the waste oscillates from its center position when standing erect. More stability means less likelihood of falling over.
Other Health Benefits of Swimming for Seniors
As a cardiovascular activity, swimming promises to improve heart health and endurance. In effect, swimmers enjoy lower blood pressure, better circulation and greater immunity to heart and lung disease. Although a milder form of resistance training, it offers a way to build and maintain lean muscle mass.
Since most senior swimming programs happen in groups, it can also be a great social activity. Fitness, in general, decreases stress and promotes higher brain activity. Thus, it’s a positive exercise for keeping our mental faculties keen, spirits high and bodies able.