We constantly hear about the health benefits of exercise and fitness even as we age. But staying active can be particularly problematic when dealing with joint pain and arthritis as a senior. Exercising in the water, however, is an excellent way to incorporate strength exercises while reducing arthritis. The buoyancy of the water reduces pressure on the joints while the resistance enables one to perform strength exercises without heavy weights.
Incorporating strength exercises can improve the body’s balance and flexibility while decreasing bone and muscle loss. Other benefits include increasing metabolism and cardiovascular health according to Chodzko-Zakio, PhD, head of department of kinesiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. When a senior is physically fit, they also become independent and benefit from a better social life as well.
Listed below are five fun and simple water exercises:
1. Aqua Jogging
Aqua jogging is easy and beneficial to the body! Jogging back and forth will cause your heart rate to go up and stay up. If this is too challenging for your body, simply walk back and forth until your heart rate is up.
2. Flutter Kicking
Like aqua jogging, flutter kicking is another low-intensity cardio exercise. Kicking at a steady tempo that gets your heart rate up while not tiring out too quickly is the key here. You may do this exercise with a kick-board held in front of you or while holding one side of the pool with your head above water.
This particular exercise focuses on the muscles in the legs and improves balance. While standing in the pool, lift one leg out to the side and back down. Repeat this exercise until your leg tires, then switch legs.
4. Standing Water Push Ups
Water push-ups focus on strengthening arm, chest and shoulder muscles without putting too much pressure on the joints. Standing alongside the pool, place your hands shoulder width apart on the edge of the pool. Lean yourself in and push yourself out repeatedly until you feel tired.
5. Arm Curls
Having water weights is a plus for this exercise because it does offer more resistance, but they are not needed to perform the exercise. Hold the weights in front of you, palms facing out and curl the weights up and down as many times as you can.
Always speak to your doctor before performing any exercise, especially if you are on any medications. Know your limits and always bring a friend when working out in the water. Aqua exercises not only provide a safe way to improve flexibility, balance and bone strength, but it also offers a fun way of socializing with friends!