Senior splash: The health benefits of swimming for aging adults
Feb 16, 2012, 8:19 a.m.
Exercise is great for almost anyone of any age -- but as we age, some of the physical activities we enjoyed when we were younger start to become problematic. High impact exercises like jogging and pole vaulting start jarring our bones and joints, leading to pain and sometimes injury. But don't get too cozy on the couch; get into the water instead! Senior swimming and other group exercise activities in the water give aging adults great ways to build stamina, strengthen muscles, reduce stress, tone the cardiovascular system and prevent the scale from tipping in the wrong direction.
Senior swimming works so well because it involves muscle groups throughout the whole body. Arm, leg, abdominal and back muscles all get a great workout while swimming. The water resistance tones and strengthens the muscles and gets the heart and lungs pumping, all without putting pressure on tender joints and bones. And stronger muscles give you an advantage on land by decreasing your vulnerability to injury.
Swimming can also help you slim down or maintain a healthy weight, which is critical for avoiding several age-onset ailments like heart disease and diabetes. A good swim can help boost the metabolism and burn an average of 250 to 430 calories in just 30 minutes. A heavier person will burn more calories than a lighter person, of course, which is all the more reason to jump in.
Recent research also shows that the body's adaptation to the cold water, while jump-starting the metabolism, can boost the immune system. Stronger immunity makes group exercise activities like aqua aerobics less of a risk and more of a way to make new friends and reduce stress levels too. So jump in! the water's great!
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