As seniors age, they often face what can be a frustrating dilemma. On one hand, exercise can extend their lifespan and improve their quality of life; on the other, many exercises run the risk of falling or suffering a joint injury, situations that can do the exact opposite. Water exercise, such as water aerobics, provide the benefits of exercise while mitigating the risks.
Water Aerobics Basics
Water aerobics is a variation of group fitness practiced in shoulder-deep water. In a typical class, participants will run through traditional aerobics exercises, calisthenics and motions that are only feasible while partially submerged. A typical class will last between 40 and 60 minutes, and may or may not be accompanied by music played from the ground nearby.
Water aerobics provides a cardiovascular burn and a light resistance workout. Cardiovascular exercise is especially important for seniors because it directly reduces the participants' risk for circulatory problems such as heart disease. Resistance workouts help to maintain strength and stability in the muscles, which can go a long way toward preserving the balance, range of motion and mobility that seniors often begin to lose.
Some of the more traditional exercise choices such as running or aerobics can be hard on the joints. The repeated impact of your feet landing on the ground places strain on the ankles, knees, hips and back. Although this isn't a problem for 20-year-old marine recruits, the muscles and connective tissues in a senior's body aren't always up to this kind of treatment. Water aerobics protects your joints in two ways. The buoyancy of the water supports a portion of your weight, reducing the load on your joints as you move. The resistance of the water prevents any of your joints from moving too quickly, which can prevent mild hyperextension and repetitive-stress injuries.
Falling is a major concern for many seniors, owing to a combination of reduced balance and growing fragility of bones. This can make many exercise options too risky. In the water, your natural buoyancy helps to keep you upright. Even if you do lose your balance completely, you will splash gently into the liquid rather than falling to the floor.