Seniors and Water Walking: 6 Benefits of Pool Walking
The reconstructive surgery on my foot and ankle last December was hardly fun, and the resulting period of inactivity was equally painful. Not being able to lift weights, run or play tennis has been a true test of my patience. I don’t like being on the sidelines; I enjoy being active.
About a month ago I was cleared to start rehab. After some research and conferences with my dad and other professionals I decided, with my surgeon’s blessing, to, instead, do pool walking. I’m glad I did. At this juncture, I am at least a week ahead of a conventional rehab program, experiencing measurable strides (pun intended) in both strength and flexibility.
When I am at the pool there are always several seniors walking laps. I know, too, there is a bi-weekly aquatics class designed for seniors. Most every fitness club and YMCA offer these, so I know they’re popular. More important, it’s a great low-impact workout. A recent article by the CDC commented on the benefits, stating that seniors with problems ranging from joint pain to chronic illness experience a decrease in their symptoms. Having experienced “first foot” the positives of pool walking, I decided to share six benefits:
• Improved balance – Debra Waters and Leigh Hale, writing in the International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation (IJTR), reported their findings of improved balance of seniors who participated in a twice weekly aquatics program. The study lasted twelve weeks and each participant showed significant improvement.
• Easy on Joints – Andrea Cespedes, a freelance wellness expert, shares in Living Strong, that water aerobics are ideal for individuals with back or joint issues and arthritis. The buoyancy of the water lessens the impact experienced with dry land exercises.
• Less risk of Injury – Writing in Fitness Vigil, Tilottama Chatterjee, notes that the buoyancy created by the water decreases the risk of injury from falling. Furthermore, as noted earlier, the less stressful wear on joints and muscles reduces the risk of injury.
• Builds strength and muscle mass – Suk Bum Kim, PhD and David Michael O’Sullivan, PhD, reported in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science that seniors in their study who participated in a water aerobics program showed significant increases in strength and muscle development.
• Reduced pain for chronic ailments – Anne Asher, CPT, writing in Very Well Health, notes that water aerobics greatly reduces the pain in chronic ailments like back problems and adds to one’s quality of life.
• Social engagement – Reporting in The Sport Journal, Matsouka Ourania and colleagues, found that “a 45-minute-per-day aquatic exercise program for 20 consecutive days produced significant improvements in mood state” and social interaction.
Aquatic aerobics and pool exercises are not just for seniors or rehabbers like myself. The benefits are available to people of all ages. There is a score of benefits I didn’t have time to mention. For example, I omitted cardiovascular, weight management and several others. There just wasn’t enough time.
Pool exercises can be as tough or easy as you want them to be. That’s why so many seniors do them. For those battling chronic pain or arthritic joints, pool exercises are a great way to maintain muscle tone, avoiding the aggravation and possibility of further damage from a workout on dry land.
I am not a physical therapist nor a body builder. Hardly. I simply like to be physically active and my ankle surgery has been a blessing from the standpoint of having found a great way to stay in shape. I hope you decide to take the plunge and enjoy your time in the water.