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Exercise and socialize with water aerobics.
For the vast majority of older people, swimming is a great idea, especially since older people are the least active of any age group in America. According to "U.S. News & World Report," 40 percent of women and 30 percent of men who are over 70 years old never exercise at all." Yet the benefits of exercise for seniors is indisputable, from protection against disease to prevention from falls and fractures to preservation of mental acuity. There are many plans that incorporate swimming and other types of exercises in the pool.
Lap It Up
It can seem a little monotonous, but swimming laps is a great way to maintain fitness as you age. SeniorFitnessSite.com suggests building yourself up to 100-meter laps with rest periods in between. Alternating face-down strokes such as the crawl or breast stroke with the backstroke enables you to work different muscles. Stay relaxed in the water and don't worry about speed. If you're not a proficient swimmer, you can do laps using a kick board and derive many of the same exercise benefits.
Yak It Up
"Socialization is an oft-forgotten, but integral benefit of many types of physical activity, and aquatic exercise is no exception," states AgingCare.com. In fact, the opportunity to socialize is a key element in getting seniors to start and maintain an exercise program. Walking or jogging in the water, a low-impact form of exercise that is relatively easy on your joints and muscles, enables you to exercise and chat with friends at the same time. A water aerobics class is another good way to socialize as you work out.
Build It Up
Pool exercises enable you to maintain bone strength, flexibility and balance, critical components for older people. A number of different forms of exercise have been adapted to the water, including water yoga and water Pilates. You can use water weights, or simply the resistance of the water, to do exercises such as lunges, biceps curls, calf raises and jumping jacks. Doing such exercises in the water helps develop coordination, strength and flexibility, which are essential in preventing the type of catastrophic falls and fractures that afflict the elderly.
If you are starting an aquatic routine at the age of 70 or older, check with your doctor before you take the plunge. This is even more true if you have certain physical conditions or limitations. As AgingCare.com emphasizes, water exercise is beneficial for most people, but not for everyone. If you have conditions such as heart failure, high blood pressure, asthma or lung problems, don't exercise in water that is higher than your waist. Deeper water can increase the pressure on your heart, increasing blood pressure and exacerbating breathing problems.