As our bodies age, the wear and tear of daily living can lead to decreased mobility, joint pain and damage, and a loss of muscle mass and strength. But staying active can help slow down the physical aging process, giving older adults more years to stay vital. With summer heat and gym closures, swimming is an activity that everyone can enjoy.
In many communities, outdoor pools have reopened by appointment only to limit the number of people gathering. Swimming, whether in a private or club pool or in the open water, is a physical activity that older adults can continue to enjoy well into very old age. According to Live Science, studies have found that swimming can not only improve heart health while going easy on the joints, but swimming can also help improve bone density, increase flexibility, strengthen muscles and boost mental health by relieving stress.
Swimming has also been associated with a reduced risk for falls. Swimming requires participants to use both upper and lower body muscles while strengthening core muscles which are important for balance control. Falls are a leading cause of injury and hospitalization among older adults and frequently contribute to a loss of mobility and independent living.
Swimming is also a good escape, not only from the summer heat but also from the worries of life during a pandemic and amid continued political, economic, and social turmoil. Swimming required focus, especially in open water, and sharp attention to one’s surroundings. Friends can meet outdoors and enjoy a swim and a socially distanced visit while staying active; a buddy system is a good idea for anyone swimming in a lake or the ocean.
As always, talk with your doctor before starting any new exercise program and begin slowly, gradually increasing duration and intensity. Learn more about starting a swimming routine at any age by following this link to the U.S. Masters Swimming website.