For older adults and seniors, physical activity is an essential aspect of good health and wellbeing. Regular physical activity prevents many of the most common health problems associated with aging, such as heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. It improves strength and balance, preventing falls andallowing you to stay independent. It even improves cognitive functioning, energy levels, and mood.
According to the CDC, weekly physical activity for seniors should involve either 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity, two days with strengthening exercises, and three days with activities to improve balance.
Pool exercises for seniors accomplish all three of these goals in a safe, supportive, and social environment.
Benefits of Aquatic Therapy for Seniors
Pool exercises, such as those performed in aquatic therapy or hydrotherapy, work all of the muscle groups in the body. What’s more, this complete workout takes place in the safe and supportive environment of the pool, where many of the barriers to exercise encountered by older adults are circumvented.
There’s a significantly reduced risk of injury while exercising in the pool. Water buoyancy supports the body, maximizing balance and quashing any chance or fear of a fall. The water also eliminates the risk of pulling or straining muscles by promoting flexibility and full range of motion.
Aging bodies experience higher degrees of strain, stiffness, and pain. Pool exercises are low-impact and gentle on joints and muscles. The warm water of an aquatic therapy pool also promotes blood circulation to sore muscles and brings relaxation to the body and mind.
An often overlooked benefit of pool exercises for seniors is its effect on mental health. Getting physical exercise reduces stress levels and allows the brain to release endorphins and other chemicals that contribute to good mood. Often taking place in a class with others, it’s also a social activity that combats social isolation and loneliness.
Hydrotherapy is accessible to people who otherwise cannot exercise on land, including those with chronic pain, neuropathic disorders, and other disabilities. For some individuals, it presents the only option for remaining physically active as an elderly adult.
Types of Pool Exercises for Seniors
Aqua therapy involves water resistance exercises, such as leg swings, calf raises, and arm curls. The resistance provided by the water helps to works every muscle group. This leads to stronger muscles, especially in the upper body, legs, and core.
A hydrotherapy class will involve a good deal of stretching. The buoyancy of the water allows stretches to be performed with full range of motion and minimal discomfort. Stretching is important because it keeps joints supple and increases flexibility in the hips, legs, arms, and neck.
Water relaxation exercises are exercises that take place at the end of a class or as part of Aqua yoga or pilates. These types of pool exercises promote relaxation, which can lower the heart rate and blood pressure as well as reduce stress.
Common Conditions Among Older Adults & Aqua Therapy Treatment
The prevalence of some conditions increases with age. Here are 3 conditions common to elderly adults and some more information on how aquatic therapy can help.
Arthritis refers to inflammation or swelling in one or more joints, tissues around the joints, and/or connective tissues. There are more than 100 conditions that fall under the category of arthritis and most produce joint pain and stiffness.
Hydrotherapy benefits those suffering with arthritis in a few ways. First, warm water reduces inflammation and stiffness in the joints and tissues. Second, the supportive qualities of water relieve pain while increasing range of movement in the joints. Finally, water resistance allows individuals to improve muscle strength and mobility, which will help you move better outside of the pool environment.
2. Cardiovascular Conditions
After the age of 65, the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease greatly increases. This includes problems with the heart, blood vessels, or both, and it can be very dangerous to health.
Pool exercises for seniors build cardiopulmonary endurance – that is, they make your heart stronger. Heart health also benefits from improved blood circulation as a result of water’s hydrostatic pressure, and improved circulation makes the heart work more efficiently.
Osteoporosis weakens bones, making them easy to break and fracture. Some of the more common bone fractures and breaks involve hips, spines, and wrists. One-third of women and one-fifth of men over the age of 50 experiences bone fractures as a result of osteoporosis.
Aquatic therapy reduces the risk of broken bones due to osteoporosis. Swimming improves bone mineral density by strengthening muscles, and muscle aging is the main cause of the pathogenesis of osteoporosis.
Aquatic Therapy at Hydroactive
Physical activity is an essential part of healthy aging – and aquatic therapy offers a safe, supportive, and social environment in which to perform the strengthening, stretching, and balancing activities you need to stay healthy.
Hydroactive offers aquatic therapy sessions in our state of the art pool facilities in Barrie and Vaughan. Call us to find out about the next pool exercise for seniors session near you.