Arthritis and joint pain can make working out the last thing seniors want to do. However, water exercises can relieve arthritis and joint pain while increasing bone density and muscle mass.
Staying active as a senior can be tough. Achy joints that don’t work as well as they used to make it hard to go for a walk or incorporate strength exercises into a daily routine. However, exercising in the water is great for reducing arthritis and other joint pain because it puts less stress on the body and the buoyancy of the water helps reduce the pressure on joints.
Water also acts as a form of resistance, so strength exercises can be performed in the water without heavy weights. Performing strength exercises and using resistance will increase flexibility and balance and decrease bone and muscle loss.
We suggest giving the following exercises a try, but keep these safety tips in mind: be aware of your limits, never do water aerobics alone (it’s not as fun, anyway), and speak with your doctor about how your medications and overall fitness mesh with water aerobics.
Here are 5 water exercises for seniors to try this summer:
1. AQUA JOGGING
Aqua jogging is the perfect aerobic, low-impact exercise to get the heart pumping and blood flowing throughout the body. This exercise can be as simple as jogging through the water from one side of the pool to the other. This exercise can also be simplified to walking back and forth in the pool or jogging or marching in place. Aqua jogging is designed to get the heart rate up and keep it up, so whichever modification you choose be sure it’s at least a little challenging.
2. FLUTTER KICKING
Flutter kicking is another great low-impact cardio exercise. This exercise can be performed with or without a kickboard. With a kickboard, hold it out in front of you and flutter kick your legs to propel you back and forth across the pool. You can also flutter kick without a kickboard if one is not available. Perform a front float with your head above water while holding onto the side of the pool and flutter kick your legs. Whichever way you do it, kick at a steady tempo that doesn’t tire you too quickly but also gets the heart pumping.
Using the resistance of the water, leg lifts work all of the muscles in the legs. For this exercise, stand in the pool and lift one leg out to the side and back down. Repeat until your leg feels tired, then switch legs and perform the exercise on the other leg. Not only does this exercise work the legs, it also improves balance and strengthens your core.
Water push-ups are a great way to build arm, chest, and shoulder strength without putting too much pressure on the joints. Stand along the side of the pool and place your hands a little wider than shoulder-width apart on the gutter or edge of the pool. Bend your arms and lean in toward the wall, then push yourself back out. Repeat this exercise slowly until your arms feel tired. Be careful not to push yourself too hard until you know your limits.
5. ARM CURLS
For this exercise, stand in the middle of the pool with water weights. Water weights don’t have to be used, but they do offer extra resistance. Hold the weights in front of you, arms in front with palms facing out. Curl the weights up then back down and repeat until tired. This exercise can also be done with palms facing toward you instead of away with the same curling motion.
Exercising may not be at the top of many senior’s to-do lists because of hurting joints, arthritis and other health problems that develop with age. However, water aerobic exercises offer a great alternative to traditional exercise at a gym. Perform the above exercises at least three times a week to experience greater flexibility, bone density, and cardiovascular function–plus it’s a great way to cool off this summer!