6 Reasons Why Swimming Can Benefit Seniors

Women and men over the age of 65 can benefit significantly by incorporating regular exercise into their daily routines. With that said, seniors need to embrace fitness routines that feature low-impact exercise as a general rule. Swimming is one ideal exercise regimen that can be highly beneficial to people over 65. Indeed, there are six key ways in which swimming can benefit senior women and men:

  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Gentler on the joints
  • Improve posture stability
  • Limit worsening of pain related to aging
  • Builds muscle
  • Improves mental health

In this article, we discuss these various benefits to seniors in engaging in swimming as part of a fitness regimen. As a side note, many individuals are interested in obtaining all of the benefits discussed in this article through their regular fitness programs. This fact makes swimming particularly appealing.

Reduce the Risk of Osteoporosis

Swimming may be beneficial for preventing, delaying, and assisting with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is medically classified as a chronic bone and joint condition. This condition can make what might otherwise be a little trip and fall incident into a serious accident warranting a trip to the hospital.

The rate of osteoporosis in adults increases with age. The disease is more common among women. Medical experts estimate that osteoporosis affects 27 percent of women in their 70s and 35 percent in their 80s.

Moreover, nearly half of the adults aged 50 and older have a condition commonly referred to as low bone mass. Low bone mass can be an early warning sign that a person may be at risk for osteoporosis.

Although the numbers may make an osteoporosis diagnosis seem likely, science suggests swimming may help. According to an extensive analysis published by BioMed Research International, swimming may help improve bone mineral density in the spine. Swimming may also be a good program for the clinical prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Although research on the relationship between swimming and osteoporosis is in its early stages, these early results should not be ignored.

Gentler on the Joints

We previously mentioned that swimming is a low-impact form of exercise. The benefits of swimming on your bones are not just preventive. Incorporating swimming into your fitness routine may help you get relief at this time and not just somewhere in the future.

According to a study published by the Journal of Rheumatology, swimming may help reduce joint pain and stiffness while improving muscle strength and functional capacity. Swimming can even help increase the overall quality of life. Truly, who would not be happier with less pain and more mobility?

Ultimately, the study concluded that the benefits of swimming exercise were comparable to cycling, a more strenuous sport. In other words, if you want the benefits of rigorous exercise with less joint strain, you should spend time in the pool.

Improve Posture Stability

Many people are not familiar with the term posture stability. If posture stability isn’t a term you’re familiar with, it’s time to add it to your vocabulary as you enter your late 50s or 60s.

Research suggests that posture stability is a key indicator of how likely a senior is to fall. Swimming may help improve a senior’s posture stability. Swimming is also thought to assist in improving other signals of brain-body coordination.

According to a study published by the Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging, seniors who swim regularly may have better balance and shorter reaction times. Given the nature of the movements required to swim, seniors who swim may experience improved accuracy of their repetitive movements and hand-eye coordination. Swimming regularly may be an important way for a senior to lower the risk of falling and sustaining serious injuries in such a situation.

Limit Worsening of Pain Related to Aging

Although swimming is a mostly painless, low-impact activity, aquatic exercise is special because it can help reduce your risk of injury and pain when you’re not in the water. Stanford University published a comprehensive research study on the effect of aerobic exercise, like swimming, on musculoskeletal pain in healthy seniors.

Participants were divided based on the level of activity. After 14 years of collecting data, the study concluded that while all participants experienced a general increase in pain with age, those who participated in a regular aerobic exercise like swimming experienced less musculoskeletal pain.

Builds Muscle

If you’re looking for a resistance workout without weights, look no further than the swimming pool. Exercising in water can be less strenuous than other forms of exercise because of the buoyancy water gives the body. However, your muscles must still work against the weight of the water. Water provides somewhere between 12 and 14 percent more resistance than air. Therefore, even if you take a seeming stroll in a pool, that exercise becomes a muscle-building workout in the water.

Improves Mental Health

You may not be surprised to learn that people who swim regularly report marked improvements in mental health. According to a comprehensive research study undertaken by the City University of New York, participants who swam reported acute decreases in:

  • Anger
  • Confusion
  • Tension
  • Depression

These decreases in swimmers were compared to non-swimmers. 

Similarly, an article published in Sports Medicine reported that the psychological benefits of aerobic exercise like swimming are “comparable to gains found with standard forms of psychotherapy.”

If, after reading this article, you are inclined to investigate how swimming might improve your health, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Before starting a new fitness program, you must consult your doctor. Your doctor can assist you in determining if you currently have the physical wherewithal to embark on a particular type of exercise routine, like swimming.

On another note, many swimming exercise options available can be undertaken alone or with others. In many communities, swimming fitness programs specifically designed for women and men in their Golden Years are available.