We all know that little physical activity increases the risk of life-threatening health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. However, we hear far too little about how when we improve our balance we make a big contribution to fall prevention. Especially when we get older. Recent research has shown that swimming and water gymnastics are the best forms of physical activity to improve our balance with lifeguard class .
This information may not come as a complete surprise. But it’s true: swimming improves our balance! After all, we already know that swimming has both mental and physical benefits. But this study has shown that swimming is the best physical exercise for the elderly, and that it can directly contribute to improving their sense of balance. Swimming can also help reduce injury from a previous fall, but most importantly, it can greatly reduce the risk of falling. Read on for more information!
Swimming and water gymnastics: why is this the best exercise for the elderly?
We already knew that swimming is good for our health, but now it has actually been proven thanks to various studies. For example, research conducted by the American Journal of Epidemiology shows that swimming and water exercises are the best forms of exercise to help older people reduce their risk of falling. Swimming and water exercises improve our balance and strengthen our
the muscles in the core. This study is one of the first to compare which different types of physical exercise are beneficial for fall prevention. The general concern to improve balance has increased as falls and injuries in the elderly are becoming major public health problems. In some cases, falls can even lead to the premature death of the elderly. A fall happens more often than we think, and in situations that we do not associate with “falling danger”. For example, during an innocent walk or when we are doing housework. It is therefore important that we are aware of this and take action to work on our own balance. Swimming is the perfect sport for that! Why? When we swim, our muscles and joints are not put under the same pressure as with strength training. Learn more about how swimming or water gymnastics can improve our body strength and flexibility.
Why walking isn’t enough to prevent falls
For the elderly who are required by their doctor to practice moderate exercise, swimming is the perfect way to improve strength in their core and lower body. However, many elderly people are limited in the physical activities they can do. Walking is often popular among older people. While that’s fine for staying active, it’s not enough to improve our muscles and balance.
Why is swimming?
- Swimming develops strong stable core muscles necessary for proper balance, an important factor in fall prevention. Unlike functional walking, swimming is considered a more complex motor activity.
- Water is about 12 times denser than air. This means that even when someone cannot swim, aqua jogging (water jogging) or walking in the water without us being aware of it, creates much more resistance. This is because we only carry 50% of our weight in the water. And when we are submerged up to our necks in water, but only have to carry 10% of our weight. So, the faster you run in the water, the more muscle you build.
- Swimming and water gymnastics are also the fastest way to improve neuromuscular response after injury.
- Unlike many other forms of exercise, the risk of injury is minimal due to the low impact of swimming. For this reason, it is an ideal choice for the elderly who want to stay in shape and maintain their physical and psychological health.
How does swimming improve your balance?
It has been scientifically proven (in the above study) that over-65s who swim are 33% less likely to fall than over-65s who don’t swim. The swimmers had much less of a “swaying posture”, indicating that they can stand more firmly without moving the hips.
Swimming contributes to muscle strengthening
Why is water in general so important for our general health? As one gets older, muscle loss occurs, which leads to decreased strength. Precisely because water offers resistance to our muscles, this can be very beneficial for building muscle strength. It can be compared to training with weights because it can bring the same results, but without overloading our muscles and joints. Another very beneficial aspect of swimming is that in swimming we use several muscles at the same time. This can prevent muscle loss in almost all your muscles, including the most important; our heart. Swimming also increases our cardiovascular functional capacity, meaning our hearts are better able to pump blood efficiently.
Water aerobics reduces the risk of osteoporosis
Water gym, aqua fitness or water aerobics all mean the same thing, namely exercise in and around water. This form of exercise is also a fun and good way to socialize. One of the changes in the human body that many seniors struggle with is linked to bone density. A decrease in bone density is in most cases a sign of osteoporosis. Women are at greater risk for osteoporosis. Activities such as swimming can reduce that risk by increasing bone marrow thickness. Water aerobics is a good example of an activity that helps with this.
The benefits of swimming regarding our flexibility
As mentioned before, we move several muscles at the same time when we swim. This allows all of our muscles and joints to become supple and loose, which is crucial for healthy balance. What else is swimming good for?
- It reduces back pain
- It improves muscle coordination
- It improves our posture
- Maintaining flexibility can help prevent injury
- Warm water relaxes the muscles and stimulates blood circulation
- It reduces stress making joints easier to move
- It makes more difficult balance exercises last longer
Often we take our balance for granted until we have a balance problem. Fall prevention should be discussed especially with an older person. Broken bones, head injuries or even minor injuries can seriously affect mobility and quality of life, so it’s worth investing in your balance before it becomes a problem.
All in all, if you’re looking for an effective way to exercise without the pain and strain of the gym, swimming is a great option. However, as with any new sport, you should consult your doctor before starting this one. A 20-minute swim, at least 3 times a week, can make a significant difference to your overall health and well-being. Swimming, Tai Chi and Yoga have many benefits in common, such as reducing muscle tension and promoting relaxation, which can be especially beneficial if you suffer from irregular sleep patterns. If it’s been a while since you’ve been to a pool, don’t be discouraged! Enjoy all the benefits that swimming brings and remember; you are never too old to learn!
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