Remember the days of heading to the pool on hot summer days? Nothing beat jumping and splashing around with friends to stay cool. While our thoughts on going to the pool may not mean exactly the same as we get older, that doesn’t mean it’s off limits. Heading to the pool can be a great way to help maintain your overall health and wellness. Splashing optional!
Hitting the waves for some exercise is a great way to stay in shape, while being gentle on your joints. Aquatic exercise — especially in warm water — helps to increase circulation, improves flexibility and endurance, and helps to build core strength and cardiovascular endurance. Not to mention it’s a great calorie burner! In addition, aquatic exercise can also help slow down muscle loss many adults experience as they age.
Getting in the pool can also be of benefit to those dealing with chronic pain or recovering from injury or surgery. The buoyancy of the water decreases joint compression making it easier, while still providing resistance, to complete exercises. Finding classes that include a variety of exercises that tackle range of motion, flexibility and endurance will give you the best outcome.
Making a connection
One hidden but important benefit of aquatic exercise is the connection you make with others in and out of the pool. Look for classes or a program that is non-competitive, provides opportunities to be more social and offers a fun atmosphere. This will make you more likely to head to class each week. Let’s face it, if you aren’t excited about the class, you won’t want to go. Connecting with others in the pool can also help build confidence to participate in activities and be more social with friends on land as well!
How to get started
Do you just want to dip a toe in and see how it feels? Many sites will offer a trial or discounted pass for you to test the waters and see how you match up with aquatic exercise. Check their website and see if any of the classes offered fit your needs. Look for a facility that has a lifeguard on duty, is well-maintained and has certified instructors.
Before you start an exercise program, be sure that your physician is on board with a warm water exercise program. Your doctor might be able to make suggestions on what types of exercises to look for. When you are exercising, be sure to stay hydrated. Being in the pool provides great resistance training and can get your heart rate going fast, so listen to your body and know your limits. If you are taking a class, talk to the instructor ahead of time about any concerns or limitations with certain movements. They should be able to give you modifications so you can still participate.
Use these tools to find out what types of aquatic exercise programs are offered in your area and if they can meet your needs. Once you find one, dive on in — you’ll be splashing like a kid again in no time!