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In the Swim of Things: How Time at the Pool Can Change Your Health

Posted on
October 12, 2021

When you were a kid, you probably loved nothing more than a day at the lake or a weekend at the ocean. As the years went by and you got busy with work and family, you may have forgotten the thrill of swimming the lanes or the weightless freedom of floating above the waves.

As a senior, now’s a great time to rediscover the joy of swimming and its many health benefits. Take advantage of The Village at Woods Edge’s partnership with the James L. Camp Jr. Family YMCA to spend time at the pool. 

Swimming benefits for seniors

In recent years, research has identified many ways that swimming improves health at all ages, but especially as we age. Even just setting your foot in water can lower stress levels and help you relax.

Swimming can lengthen your life and improve your health. An ideal exercise for older adults, swimming is gentle on the joints, strengthens muscles, provides a great cardio workout and improves flexibility and range of motion. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine stated that swimming can lengthen your life by 5 years.

The AARP pointed to a study in Australia that showed that men who swam regularly were less likely to fall than other men. The study states that swimming is the only exercise that reduces the risk of falling and theorizes that swimming builds core muscles that create stability.

The Centers for Disease Control state that swimming, the fourth most popular sports activity in the United States, benefits seniors by improving the quality of life and decreasing disability. “Just two and a half hours per week of aerobic physical activity, such as swimming, bicycling, or running, can decrease the risk of chronic illnesses,” according to the CDC.

Swimming also burns more calories than many exercises as it works multiple muscle groups during a workout. Often swimmers can work out longer because there is less stress on joints and muscles.

Getting started

If you’d like to get started swimming as a senior, here are some tips from Swimmers Daily and Silversneakers.com:

  • Don’t dive right in. Talk to your doctor before you begin a new routine in order to assess any health risks or cautions.
  • Suit up with gear that will make the experience more comfortable, such as a robe, towel and swimmer’s cap. 
  • Sign up for a lesson or to work with a coach to learn the best techniques.
  • Swim with a friend for encouragement and consistency.
  • Gently swim or walk for a few minutes and then stretch before beginning a workout.
  • Start slow and build up the duration and intensity of your workouts gradually. 
  • Keep your head down as you swim to reduce drag and strain on your neck.
  • Try to swim quietly to increase the efficiency of your strokes.

Get back into the swim of things by checking out a class or asking a friend to visit the YMCA with you. The YMCA, located at 300 Crescent Drive, Franklin, is open Mon - Fri: 5 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Sat: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and Sun: 1-5 p.m. Just keep swimming!

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