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4 benefits of swimming as an older adult

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Here are four reasons why as an older adult, you should consider swimming as the exercise for you.

Soothes joint pain

What makes swimming unique as a form of exercise, and particularly useful for older adults, is that swimming can help with the alleviation of joint pain and arthritic symptoms.

80-year-old Lorna Simpson rekindled her passion for swimming after her husband encouraged her to jump back into the water after being diagnosed with arthritis.

On her return to swimming, Lorna said:

“I wasn’t sure how I’d find getting back into the pool, but it’s been amazing. I was diagnosed with arthritis when I was 50 and swimming has been incredible at helping to reduce the symptoms – it’s improved my life hugely.”

Swimming is non-weight bearing meaning that the buoyancy of the water helps to support your body weight, which while immersed, will reduce the effects of gravity. This ultimately means that when swimming, there is little to no pressure on your joints, and any pressure on spines, hips and knees are all soothed by being fully immersed in water.

Reduces the risk of falling

One thing that is often overlooked by older individuals considering exercise, are routines that nurture and support bone strength. Bone strength is particularly important for older adults as the strength of our bones is responsible for both our posture and stability.

The most effective way of maintaining and nurturing bone strength is by also maintaining the forces outside the bone, particularly muscle strength. Swimming happens to be an incredibly effective method of naturally producing muscle strength as it is one of the only forms of exercise that works all muscle groups simultaneously. Your muscle movements will constrict and loosen during swimming which will increase your muscle strength, and in turn, strengthen ageing bones.

To support this, a study was conducted in Australia to research the relationship between swimming and falling as an older adult. The study found that men aged 70 or older were 33% less likely to fall compared to those that did not swim. In addition, it was discovered that those who participated in other sports along with swimming were no less likely to fall compared to those who only participated in swimming.

Improves quality of sleep

Other benefits of swimming for seniors, and most forms of exercise such as taking part in an active senior programme, is the impact it can have on individual sleep performance.

Nearly 50% of older adults complain of difficulty sleeping, which can be detrimental to mental health and also result in an increased risk of mortality. Fortunately, as swimming works all the major muscle groups, it helps to physically tire the body. This then paves the way for a more natural exhaustion, helping you sleep better.

Improves mental health

In addition to the mental health benefits of having a healthier sleeping pattern, swimming has lots of qualities that are known to be valuable to improving mental health and overall wellbeing.

Aerobic exercise, such as swimming, is a good way to relax the body and mind. Helping to reduce depression, anxiety, and stress which are all common psychological issues that become more prevalent with age.

The opportunities for socialising while swimming in a communal pool can have wonderous effects on mental wellbeing. Socialisation is known to help generate dopamine, and is a great way to improve mood, memory recall, and cognition.

Lorna champions the social benefits of swimming, saying that:

“Not only has swimming been great for my physical health but the social side of it has been great for my mental health, too – I’ve made some great friends along the way.

If you’re considering starting, I’d encourage you to take the plunge and do it, whether you go with someone or on your own, you won’t regret it.”

Sam Davis Content Contributor, Warwick Sport

Sam is a content writer and sport enthusiast with a keen interest in football, judo, and hockey.


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