Seniors who exercise live an average of five years longer, says a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Tracking participants aged 68 to 77, the study showed that putting in just 30 minutes of exercise of any intensity – including a gentle exercise like swimming – reduced the likelihood of dying by 40% during the 11-year study. Swimming is an ideal exercise activity for seniors because it does not stress out the joints or bones, yet can provide a fantastic daily cardiovascular workout. If you are aged over 65 and you’d like to give swimming a go, you might find the following tips useful.
Getting Your Doctor’s Okay
Whenever seniors start a new exercise regime, it is useful to get their doctor’s approval first. This is especially true if you have heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, cancer or arthritis. Usually, if you have no symptoms, you can start exercising gently and slowly work up your intensity. However, a visit to the doctor may be necessary if you have any symptoms that could be related to heart or lung disease, or other chronic illnesses..
Before you go on your swim, make sure you have all the items you need – including a sports swimsuit, non-slip shoes for the pool, a nice soft robe, a towel, and a swimming cap. Don’t forget your goggles either: they will help you see the ends of the pool quickly and if you don’t use them, your eyes can get irritated. Make sure to pack a couple of energy snacks in your sports bag as well if you will be heading for a gym or public pool. Try trail mix or an energy bar to ensure you have the fuel you need for your workout. Finally, make sure to pack an energy drink or water; you will probably feel very thirsty after your workout.
Building Confidence In The Water
If you are new to swimming, build your confidence in the water slowly. Starting out with professional lessons is key so that you ensure you are going at the right pace and performing strokes with the right technique and style. Knowing how to stroke through the water can increase your aerodynamics and speed, but using the right breathing techniques is also vital to boost your endurance and confidence in the water. Find a swim class for adults near you if you want to hone the basics such as kicking, hand position, leg position, and the like. This will stand you in good stead when you are swimming alone and you are using the right form as you complete your set of laps for the day. A good teacher will also be able to show you how to stretch and warm-up before jumping into the pool.
Learning First Aid
Whether you will be swimming alone or doing so in the company of friends and family, knowing poolside first aid (such as how to help someone who is drowning or has had a cramp in the water) can also help you feel more confident. During a first aid course, you can also learn about how to identify people who are drowning – for instance, someone who is crawling along the wall of the pool or clinging to a flotation device may be doing so because they are too exhausted to sustain themselves in the water.
If you are a senior who wishes to take up swimming, few choices of exercise could be better. Swimming is gentle on the joints and can be adapted to your level, making it ideal for beginners and highly fit athletes alike. If you are ready to start, get your doctor’s ‘OK’, buy a few key items, and start swimming and first aid lessons soon. This will ensure you are as confident as you can be every time you visit the pool or gym.
Guest post by Sara Zipf