Exercise is essential for good health no matter how old you are. The older you get, however, the harder it can be for you to be able to exercise the way you should. The more inactive you become, the stiffer and more resistant your body becomes to movement.
To fight that, you need to find a form of exercise that uses mild resistance and provides support to the body. Water exercises and water aerobics use the body's own weight for resistance and helps to support the body while you are exercising. The benefits of exercising in water are many. It's up to you to find water aerobics exercises for seniors – and in this guide we help you out by showing you the best ones!
Keep in Mind:
Before starting any new exercise(s), we strongly recommend you follow the advice of the National Institute on Aging and consult your doctor.
Benefits of Water Aerobics for Seniors
There are several benefits attributed to water aerobics and exercises for seniors. Exercising in water minimizes the risk of an injury. You are less likely to fall or slip. When pushing through the water, moving against the fluid offers the same amount of resistance as that which the body exerts. This reduces the risk of pulling a muscle or damaging tendons or ligaments. Movement through the water also massages the soft tissues. The heat from the water (if exercising in a heated pool) increases circulation and improves cardio function as well.
Exercising in water allows for more fluid movement. Weights and other exercise tools can be used to improve the benefits of the workout without increasing the risk of injury. The support water provides the body during exercise allows for increased freedom of movement and more range of motion. Since moving through the water requires a modest amount of force, every movement can be considered some form of exercise and provides some degree of benefit.
Best Water Aerobics Exercises for Seniors
There are many aerobic exercises that can be useful for people of any age. For seniors, however, it's important to maintain body strength for as long as possible. There are many water exercises for seniors that will not only increase body strength, they will also strengthen the bones and connective tissues as well. These same exercises also improve circulation and strengthen heart function as well.
It goes without saying that swimming is one of the best exercises for seniors. While some strokes are easier to perform than others, it may take a while before you are ready to swim more than one or two lengths of the pool. Swimming is one of the best exercises for improving range of motion and increasing flexibility throughout the entire body.
Water Aerobics for Seniors
Water exercises range in difficulty starting at mild and increasing to difficult. Seniors can start with mild exercises and gradually work their way up, increasing difficulty as they go. Exercises like yoga and Pilates can also be performed in water. These exercises are designed to stretch the body, releasing tension from the joints. Performing them in water enhances the exercises allowing the body to relax more fully.
Water walking strengthens the lower portion of the body and also helps to improve posture. The exercise is often performed in waist-deep water (higher if you are comfortable with it). Take steps as if you are walking on the ground. Avoid moving on your tiptoes. The more you perform this exercise, the better your posture will be.
Arm circles are performed with the body mostly submerged in water. If you are comfortable standing in water up to your chest or shoulders, you should slowly walk into the water until only the tops of your shoulders and above are visible. Raise your arms to the side and start moving them in circles. Start small, making the circles bigger as you go. Every 30 seconds change the direction of the rotation.
To perform leg swings correctly, you should stand at the edge of the pool in waist-deep water. Swing each leg to the side and to the back several times. Turn around and swing your legs to the front. Repeat this several times. Not only will your strength improve, but your balance will also improve. If you want to try and improve your balance, you can perform leg sings away from the edge of the pool. Perform them slowly to ensure that you can maintain your balance without falling or leaning from side to side.
With arm curls, you should be standing in water that is chest-deep. You can use small pool weights or a pool noodle. Hold the weights down along your side. Gradually lift the weights by bending at your elbows. Your forearms should be parallel to the bottom of the pool. Do this several times until you can feel the fatigue in your forearms.
Much like arm curls, start the exercise in chest-deep water. Hold the weights down at your sides. This time, bend at the shoulder, lifting your arms until they are parallel to the surface of the water. Lower your arms slowly, repeating the exercise several times. Arm raises can be performed with a ball, weights, or a pool noodle.
Pool Exercises for Seniors
Seniors can choose any type of swimming stroke that they feel comfortable with. Forward stroke, backstroke, and sidestroke are often the most common. Start with the number of laps you feel comfortable with. You can gradually increase the number of laps as you continue to workout. Changing the type of strokes occasionally will keep allowing you to use different muscles each time you exercise.
Flutter kicks are easily performed by holding on to the side of the pool and kicking your legs as if you were swimming. You can kick your legs slowly or speed up the motion and kick at a faster rate. Instead of performing flutter kicks along the side of the pool, you can also hold on to a floatation device and use your flutter kicks to propel yourself around the pool.
The chest fly stroke is similar to that of the breaststroke. Start by standing in chest-deep water with your arms extended toward the front. Start with the palms together below the water. Push arms apart and reach out toward each side. Pull/push your arms back toward the center point. Repeat this cycle ten times. As you continue to perform the exercises, continue to add repetitions as you begin to get more comfortable.
If you have been water walking for any length of time, you may want to try and jog in water. Start slowly in waist-deep water. If you would be more comfortable, it will help with your balance to hold on to the side of the pool to stabilize yourself. When jogging, you can put a little force behind your step to push yourself higher into the water. You can propel yourself across the pool in this manner and perform “laps”.
Pool Noodle Exercises for Seniors
Pool noodles are excellent exercise tools that seniors can use during workouts. Noodles are lightweight but can help to increase resistance. They are also ideal for stretching exercises that can be performed both in and out of the water.
Performing arm raises with pool noodles adds a modest amount of resistance and will help to improve both posture and balance. This can be performed in waist-deep water to start and then gradually working your way into chest-deep water as you begin to build up strength.
Resistance can be increased by adding pool noodles to the exercise. Whether you are walking in water, jogging, or performing arm curls/raises, the length of the pool noodle will increase the amount of surface area pushing or pulling against the water. The more you push with the noodle, the more resistance you will experience.
The fluid movements of Tai chi are extremely beneficial both in and out of the water. When performed in the water, the slow movements maximize the resistance the body experiences. While Tai chi strengthens the body, concentration and breathing strengthen the mind. Two halves of the same whole gaining strength at the same time. Including pool noodles adds the support and stability that will allow you to truly relax and enjoy your workout. If you love Tai chi out of the water, you will enjoy it in the water.
Stretching exercises, especially when they are performed in water, Stretches can be performed in waist or chest-deep water. Using pool noodles will help to stabilize you while you are in the water. They can also assist with balance. Hold the pool noodles with your hands at least shoulder length apart. Raise the noodle above your head reaching as far as you possibly can. As you lower the pool noodle, circle to the left, back to center, and then circle to the right and then again, back to center.
Just like with any other form of exercise, there should be a period of warming up and cooling down. Before entering the pool, it's a good idea to spend a few minutes warming up by stretching or walking. Warming up increases blood flow and prepares the body for more intense exercise. The warmer the body is when you begin to work out, the less risk you have of receiving an injury or overdoing it. The same principle applies to cooling down exercises. Taking the time to let your heart rate return to normal will prevent muscles from cramping up Start by gliding slowly through the water. After a few minutes, exit the pool and walk around as you start to dry off.
Seniors who have mobility issues can exercise in water or a swimming pool much easier than they can outside of the water. Once seniors find out how easy it is to move through the water during exercise, many choose to include it in their exercise program. With the number of different exercises, seniors can choose from to perform in the water. All offer some degree of resistance and most range from mild to severe depending on the ability of the person performing them. If adding water exercises is something of interest, it's important to continually rotate them in and out of your exercise program. This prevents the body from becoming stagnant and will allow for continued growth over time.
Before beginning any exercise program, seniors should check with their doctor first. As a person ages, their body changes. If they have not been exercising on a regular basis, any type of exercise may be a shock to the system. Starting slowly is the best way to prevent injuries and keep from overwhelming the body. The doctor should perform a thorough physical examination to ensure that they are in good health and can withstand intense levels of activity. The exam should include checking the heart, lungs, and mobility of the joints. The doctor will determine what level a person should start their exercise program. Some may have to start very slowly, while others may be able to start at a more moderate level. Once approval has been granted, it may be beneficial to work with a trainer for a short period of time to ensure safety.