As we age, a lot of us find that the sports we used to play and the forms of exercise that we once found enjoyable, can begin to have the opposite effect. Rigorous exercise can take a toll on our bodies and our health. However, it’s important to stay healthy and fit our whole lives, so the elderly, especially those in home retirement, often have to look for an alternative and more gentle form of exercise. Swimming is one such sport and is an excellent way to exercise healthily at any age and it aids the elderly especially well.
We share a few ways swimming can be highly beneficial to keeping elderly bodies fit and healthy.
Although all types of sport are great to get the heart pumping and to increase circulation, swimming is uniquely beneficial to circulation and general heart health. Swimming encourages vigorous movement with every stroke that we don’t feel the full effects of as we’re submerged in water. When we swim, more blood is pumped around our system with every beat than anything we do on land, exercising our cardiovascular system much more efficiently.
Swimming regularly can also help maintain normal blood pressure, as our blood vessels are getting the circulation they need to stay elastic. The health benefits that swimming provides to your main internal organs can drastically reduce the risk of heart and lung disease, and keep you going for much longer.
Easy on Joints and Bones
We don’t get to a certain age without a few aches and pains along the way. Joint and bone pains are the main reason why elderly people give up on exercise. Luckily, swimming has the opposite affect than most sports have on the more achy breaky parts. Because it is not weight-bearing—and that includes the weight of yourself put on you by gravity—it keeps the pressure off your joints and won’t bring about the discomfort that you get on land.
For those at risk of osteoporosis, swimming can be equally as effective at increasing bone mineral density. The support the water gives allows you to move around a lot more than you would on land. Although swimming is not weight-bearing, which is necessary for bone building, the support that swimming regularly brings to your core strength assists with weight-bearing activities (by that we only mean walking around, carrying your own weight – nothing too strenuous) in daily life.
It Makes You Stronger
Being in the water may not feel like it, but there’s a lot of resistance to pull against with every stroke you swim. Additionally, swimming uses every muscle group in your body. You’re kicking with your legs, making strokes with your arms, and keeping yourself afloat with your core. This makes swimming an excellent form of resistance training and can help you to build muscle quite easily.
Building muscle through swimming is not going to turn you into a body-builder, don’t worry. Instead, the cardiovascular movement allows your muscles to grow lean and toned, meaning you’ll be strong enough to stay active in your daily life.
Keeps You Flexible and Balanced
Being in the water is different to playing sports on land, as you have to create your own base of support. This often comes from the centre of your body, rather than relying so much on legs and feet. For this reason, swimming can be fantastic at increasing balance and flexibility. Swimmers aren’t restricted by gravity, so they are able to use core muscles that they may not have the ability to utilise on land. The lack of gravity involved in swimming also allows them to stretch out tight muscles in their limbs and chest, increasing flexibility significantly.
Furthermore, a study conducted in Australia noted that elderly men who had taken up swimming had 33% fewer falls than other elderly people, including those who undertook land sports. They also had much better posture in general. This can be credited to the aid in balance and flexibility that swimming exclusively provides.
Incorporate Swimming into Your Home Retirement Plan
At The Vines at Bethlehem, we’re pleased to have our very own swimming pool proposed as part of the village lifestyle plans. Upon completion, it will provide a lap pool for residents to utilise daily for their health and wellbeing, along with a spa for relaxation at the end of it. If swimming is one of your top priorities for your retirement, The Vines is the Bethlehem retirement village for you. Get in touch with us today to register your interest!