Staying active as you age is vital, but may become more difficult with physical and medical limitations.
Seniors 65 and older should get about 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, such as walking, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity, such as running, jogging, or hiking, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also recommends muscle-strengthening and balance-improving activities.
But because arthritis and joint pain can make working out difficult, one solution you can try is water aerobics. Exercising in the water can reduce arthritis and joint pain because it puts less stress on the joints. Water also gives resistance, so you don’t need heavy weights in the water to perform strength exercises. With water exercise, you can increase balance and flexibility while fighting loss of bone and muscle.
Here are 5 water exercises to try, but remember to be aware of your limits, always exercise with a friend, and clear these exercises first with your doctor.
Top Water Exercises for Seniors
1. Arm Curls
This exercise uses water weights, which aren’t actually heavy but made of foam. This pushes against the water, creating resistance.
Stand in the middle of the pool, shoulder height, with your water weights. Hold the weights down at your side, palms up and elbows in. Curl your arms up, then rotate your arms and lower them, pushing against the resistance. Try this 10 times in one set, and try to do up to three sets.
2. Aqua Walking or Jogging
Walking in the water is good for the heart and circulation in a low-impact way. It’s easy on the joints, and as your joints strengthen, you can transition to water jogging.
Begin at a slow pace, walking back and forth in the shallow end of the pool for five to 10 minutes. Press your heels into the pool floor first and don’t walk on your tiptoes. After some time, as your heart settles and you’re ready, try the same routine by jogging instead of walking for a greater challenge.
3. Flutter Kicking
Flutter kicking also gets your heart pumping without too much strain. It can be performed with or without a kickboard. If you have a kickboard, hold it out in front of you and kick your legs as you move back and forth across the pool.
If you don’t have a kickboard, use the side of the pool. With your head above water, hold on and kick your legs. With or without a kickboard, you should keep a steady pace that gets your heart pumping but doesn’t wear you out too quickly.
4. Leg Lifts
Leg lifts use the resistance of the water to work all of the muscles in the legs, and can help improve balance and core strength. Stand in the pool (hold onto the side if you like) and lift one leg out to the side, then back down and cross your other foot, then down. Repeat 10 times, then switch legs and perform the exercise on the other leg.
Also try lifting your leg forward, then backward. Focus on extending your leg out from the hip. Do this 10 times, then switch the leg.
5. Standing Water Push-ups
You can strengthen your arms, shoulders and chest without putting too much pressure on the joints with water push-ups.
Face a side of the pool and position your hands on the wall a little wider than your shoulders. Bend your arms and lean in toward the wall, then push back out without locking your elbows. Repeat slowly about 10 times each set, resting about 30 seconds between sets.
A good water exercise program, like all the fitness programs you’ll experience at a Senior Living community, can add more exercises to help you maintain your health.
The Benefits of Water Aerobics for Seniors
There are a number of reasons you should try water exercises if you are a senior, and getting fit is just one of them. Here are 8 physical benefits, and 4 mental benefits, of water aerobics.
- Builds strength: Water adds resistance to any workout, and water weights and other equipment can increase the effect.
- Enhances range of motion: With greater buoyancy and lower gravity, exercise in water can give you a greater range of motion.
- Helps with balance: The fluidity of water can help you work on your balance, giving you more confidence.
- Improves heart and lung function: Combining a vigorous workout with water pressure helps the heart, lungs and circulation.
- Increases flexibility: With the support of water, you may be able to increase your flexibility, which helps your muscles.
- Manages weight: Water aerobics burns calories and helps boost the metabolism, which can help with weight loss.
- Relieves joint pain: With less strain on the joints, water gives you therapeutic benefits, and can ease pain.
- Strengthens bones: Water-based exercise can maintain or improve bone health, according to the Aquatic Exercise Association.
- Boosts mental health: The sounds and sensations of water helps you relax and de-stress.
- Contributes to well-being: Exercising in water can improve mood, decrease anxiety and fight depression, according to the CDC.
- Forges social bonds: Exercising with friends builds community and fights against loneliness.
- Provides a sense of accomplishment: If you struggle exercising on dry land, water-based exercise can be easier, less painful and can give you a feeling of accomplishment.
Download The Complete Guide to Health & Wellness for Seniors
As people grow older, their health and wellness needs change. Read our eBook, “The Complete Guide to Health & Wellness for Seniors” for everything you need to know about staying healthy and happy as we age.Download the Guide
Exercise With Friends at a Senior Lifestyle Community
Exercising may be a challenge for you because of arthritis, stiff joints and other health problems, but water aerobic exercises offer a great alternative to traditional exercise at a gym.
Senior Lifestyle can help you with your exercise program, along with other ways to keep you healthy and happy. We’ll take care of the everyday tasks of cleaning, cooking and washing, while you have time to relax and enjoy life.