Take a moment to imagine a family day in the swimming pool. What you probably pictured was a mom, a dad, and their 2.5 children splashing around in the water. But what about the grandparents? Were grandma and grandpa in your mental picture? If not, they should be.
According to the CDC, swimming for senior health is a great way for the elderly to exercise. The buoyancy provided by water takes the strain off of joints stiffened by age-related arthritis, allowing for a greater range of exercises that would be otherwise difficult or impossible to do out of water. This decreased stress and strain allows for longer periods of exercise, and avoids potential injuries resulting from slipping or falling. This is especially helpful in the case of older adults who struggle with obesity and aren’t able to engage in a lot of the typical exercises that would help them lose weight.
However, weight-loss is only the beginning of the potential benefits for seniors. Here are a few more benefits of swimming for senior health:
- Swimming maintains muscle mass that is otherwise lost due to aging
- It builds bone density, minimizing the symptoms of osteoporosis
- Flexibility is maintained and improved
- Cardiovascular health is improved, decreasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes
- A study published by the NIH linked swimming with improved and faster eye-hand coordination and balance in older adults, lessening their chance of being injured in a fall
- Swimming even improves mental health, alleviating the effects of depression, a common ailment in the elderly
The next time you have a pool party, don’t forget to invite grandma and grandpa! Or better yet, have them over several times a week—playing in the pool is a great excuse to spend more time with the family. And socializing is perhaps the best way to maintain a happy and healthy heart.