Despite common misconceptions, regular exercise continues to be crucial to the health of seniors as they age. But that doesn’t mean you can keep doing the same exercises in your 60s that you did in your 20s. In addition to actually having to do the activities, seniors are faced with finding safe and effective workouts that don’t put too much stress on the joints or weakening muscles.
Water activities are a great option for anyone with access to a home or city pool, as water’s buoyancy decreases and even relieves the pressure on joints, and provides resistance without requiring weights. These workouts can help seniors improve balance and flexibility and reduce muscle and bone loss, and are actually more fun than work!
There are options galore for you to choose from, but we’ve compiled three low-impact water activities for seniors here to get started.
Water jogging is a great alternative for seniors who need to get their heart rate up but can no longer perform high-impact cardio such as running. This activity is as easy as jogging from one end of the pool to the other, using the same techniques you would with regular jogging. Be sure to pump your arms in order to get your blood flowing throughout your entire body.
If water jogging is too difficult, try water walking instead. Because of the resistance that water provides, this will still be more challenging than walking on land. Just be sure that you’re actually getting your heart rate up — it’s not a workout if it’s too easy!
Flutter kicks are another excellent low-impact cardio activity that is easy to perform. Using a kickboard may make flutter kicking more fun, as you’ll get to move around in the water. Simply hold the kickboard out in front of you and flutter kick your legs, “snapping” them through the end of your toes and allowing your knees to bend slightly. You may want to track how many laps you’re able to do to monitor your progress over time.
If you don’t have a kickboard, you can still benefit from flutter kicking. Grab onto the edge of the pool, stretch your arms, position yourself in a front float with your head above the water, and flutter kick. Since you won’t be moving any physical distance, you can time yourself to track progress. Just be sure not to start out too strong; keep your kick at a consistent pace that you can maintain without tiring too soon.
To include upper body resistance training in your workout, add arm circles to your list of water activities. Arm circles will help strengthen your upper back and shoulders without the need of any additional weights.
To perform arm circles:
Position yourself near the side of the pool, making sure that the water comes up to your neck. This way, you can grab the pool’s edge if you lose your balance.
Stagger your feet in front of and behind you.
Raise your arms out to the sides at 90-degree angles. They should be just beneath the water’s surface.
Place your hands in a palms-down position.
Rotate your arms in a circular pattern for 10 to 15 seconds.
Switch the direction of the motion and repeat.
Before you get your feet wet, remember that safety always comes first. Talk to your doctor about your intended workout, don’t exceed your limits, and always have someone in or near the pool with you.
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