Seniors and Water Walking II: The 7 Best Water Exercises for Seniors
Unfortunately, it took a severe ankle injury and subsequent surgery to introduce me to working out in the pool. Aquatic exercising, however, is not solely for seniors or rehabbers like myself. A 2017 article in Alzheimers.net stated that “studies have shown that for people who show signs of cognitive impairment, water therapy can be a more effective treatment than land-based exercises and improve independence in activities of daily living.” It’s safe to say, therefore, that aquatic exercise is beneficial to a broad spectrum of people, young and old. Today I will be sharing with you seven exercises most anyone can do in the pool:
- Water jogging – Jen Weir, a freelance writer and certified health coach, recommends water jogging for its low stress on joints, muscles and bones. Less stress on the body reduces the risk of injury. And if you’re not ready for running in the water, you can modify it by just walking.
- Jumping jacks – Tom Petrie, a physical therapist and freelance writer, lists jumping jacks as an easy-to-adapt exercise while still working out arms, legs and getting your heart rate up. “Stand in chest level water with your feet together and your arms at your side. Simultaneously bring your legs apart and your arms over your head as you jump in the air. Then, jump again and return your arms and legs to your side.”
- Wall chair – Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, lists in its brochure on aquatic exercises several drills for strengthening the lower body, including the wall chair. In water roughly chest deep, “stand with your feet about 6 to 8 inches from the wall of the pool, and your back to the wall. Slide your back down along the wall of the pool as you bend your knees.” Hold that position for one minute, longer if possible.
- Flutter kick – Charlotte Hilton Andersen, a freelance journalist for Hearst Media, lists the flutter kick as an ideal exercise for strengthening leg and core muscles. “Holding onto the edge of the pool, kick your legs rapidly behind you.” For a more vigorous workout, keep your legs submerged, kicking harder and not lifting your legs higher.
- Pushups – APTA, the American Physical Therapy Association, lists pushups as one of their top ten recommended pool exercises. “While standing in the pool by the poolside, place arms shoulder-width apart on the pool edge. Press weight through your hands and raise your body up and halfway out of the water, keeping elbows slightly bent. Hold 3 seconds and slowly lower back into the pool.”
- Arm curls – Lisa M. Wolfe, a fitness author in Oakland, Ca., lists arm curls as a way for seniors to build strength. Standing in waist or chest high water and using water dumbbells, lift from your side to your bicep. Repeat 8 to 10 times.
- Leg lifts – Tamara Rahoumi, writing in The Path, an online magazine dedicated to fitness and healthy lifestyles, lists leg lifts as one exercise for building core strength with reduced risk of injury. “This isn’t too different from out-of-water leg raises, but instead of lying down, you’ll perform them with your back leaned against the wall and your arms resting on the edges of the pool. As you work to keep your legs straight while raising them into a 45-degree angle, your core will be hard at work keeping your motions steady and your body in place as it tries to succumb to its natural buoyancy.”
Last week I shared several benefits of water walking and other aquatic workouts. I have also listed a number of exercises that can be adapted to the pool. Again, the list above is hardly exhaustive. There are dozens of other exercises most anyone can perform including water treading, frog leaps and triceps curls. These exercises are ideal for seniors, especially those with knee, hip or back issues. That said anyone can benefit from a pool workout. The beauty of a pool exercise is it can be as easy or hard as you want it to be. Is it time for you, or the senior in your life, to kick up a few bubbles?