7 Benefits of Swimming As You Age

In general, it’s advisable for seniors to be active and engage in regular exercise. But did you know swimming may significantly slow the aging process?

“Those who swim regularly see improvements in their muscle mass, blood pressure, and lung function,” says Beth McGowan Welch, Executive Director of Park Place of Elmhurst. “For these reasons and many more we encourage residents to incorporate aquatic exercise into their individualized wellness plan.”

In fact, Park Place at Elmhurst is one of the only senior living communities in the area that has a full-size pool. Keep reading to learn seven benefits of swimming to improve the quality of your life.

1.   Alleviates Joint Pain

Traditional aerobic exercises like running or high-intensity interval training can strain your body. Swimming is a fantastic alternative because it’s gentle on your joints. It puts little to no pressure on problem areas like your hips and knees.

More than that, water exercise like hydrotherapy can also bring comfort to those who suffer from joint pain or arthritis.

2.   Supports Heart Health

Cardio is essential to maintaining cardiac health. But if you have injuries or impairments that make movement difficult, swimming can be a godsend. Swimming provides you with a therapeutic way to increase your heart rate and improve your physical health.

Swimming has been shown to:

  • Improve the efficiency of your heart
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increase blood flow
  • Raise good cholesterol HDL levels

One study suggests women who swim daily decrease their risk of heart disease by 30-40%.

3.   Reduces Risk of Falls

Researchers at the West Sydney University compared the forms of exercises practiced by 1,400 men over the age of 70. They found that swimming decreased the likelihood of a fall by 33%.

The researchers explain that in contrast with land-based exercises swimming requires you to create support within your core while coordinating movement between your upper and lower extremities. This increases flexibility, stability, and strength, which results in decreased postural sway.

Therefore, choosing swimming as your preferred exercise could protect you from falls and prevent the need for long-term care.

4.   Burns Calories

Swimming is an aerobic activity that can help you lose weight, if that is one of your fitness goals. While swimming can be relaxing, your body actually has to work quite a bit harder in the pool. Since water is about 800 times denser than air, even a gentle 30-minute swim can burn as many as 200 calories.

At Park Place at Elmhurst, you can participate in classes like Aqua Fit, water aerobics, and aqua agility. Or you can connect with resident Jan Huskison who is a former synchronized swimmer to show you the ropes.

5.   Boosts Mental Health and Cognitive Well-Being

Whether you’re one of the 20% of older adults who have been diagnosed with a mental or neurological disorder or you just experience everyday stressors, you could benefit from a mood-enhancing activity like swimming.

Swimming has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain and promote the growth of brain cells that break down due to chronic stress. The endorphins released by swimming like all exercises – also relieve pain and stress. Additionally, the activity has a way of clearing your mind, encouraging positivity, and providing greater peace of mind.

6.   Improves Sleep

Poor sleep leads to increased mortality, so it’s important to engage in activities that promote healthy sleeping patterns. Swimming is one of these. The calorie burn associated with swimming, along with the way it works all major muscle groups, primes your body for deeper and more quality sleep.

7.   Decreases Risk of Osteoporosis

One-third of women and one-fifth of men over 50 have experienced a bone fracture related to osteoporosis. If you have low bone density, swimming is a fantastic low-impact exercise that is safe to participate in several times a week. It can also improve bone mineral density (BMD), which will help stave off osteoporosis.

An Emphasis on Wellness at Park Place of Elmhurst

Park Place of Elmhurst is a Life Plan Community with a unique commitment to health and well-being. We foster a supportive environment for each resident to take appropriate steps toward a more healthy, happy lifestyle with our diverse nutritious dining options, outdoor walking trails, and exercise classes. Come visit us at Park Place and experience our wellness programming for yourself.