Senior man in swimming pool

As a senior, you probably recognize the need to stay physically active, but joint pain or a past injury may keep you from continuing the strenuous workouts you once enjoyed. If you want a full-body workout but you don’t want the back and joint pain that follows a trip to the gym, you should consider swimming. Here are a few of the reasons why:

1. Easy on Joints

A jog or trip to the gym may leave more than just your muscles sore. For many seniors, a bike ride or short run on the treadmill can result in serious joint pain that lasts far beyond the workout. Swimming allows you to avoid putting unwanted pressure on your joints. Since the water supports your body weight, you get a complete workout without adding your weight and extra pressure to your knees, hips, or spine.

2. Builds Muscles

Have you ever tried to run in water? You may have felt like you were running in slow motion. Since water is 12 times denser than air, any movement you make underwater requires muscle exertion. Whether you’re doing water aerobics, lap swimming, or simply splashing around, the water offers resistance to your movement that’s excellent for building and toning muscles.

3. Increases Flexibility

Just as resistance helps to build muscles, it also helps to improve flexibility. As your arms, legs, and hips are forced to stretch in the water, your flexibility increases, which can help ease back pain and enhance muscle coordination. These stretches also help to improve core strength which leads to better balance and a decreased risk for falls.

4. Strengthens the Heart

Swimming is an aerobic activity which means it provides a workout for your heart. Though the water keeps your body from getting hot like it would during a brisk jog, swimming has the same heart-strengthening effects as running. According to an article in Harvard Health, a study of nearly 46,000 women and men measuring heart health showed that swimmers and runners achieved the best cardiovascular health of the group.

5. Boosts Mental Health

Swimming is a natural mood booster. Being in the water, especially with friends, helps both your mind and body to de-stress. For seniors with fibromyalgia, swimming can also decrease anxiety and reduce depression. When you leave the water you find that you’re more relaxed and happy than you were before your swim.

As you seek out a way to exercise without the pain and strain of a regular gym workout, swimming is a great alternative. If it has been a while since you’ve been in the pool, don’t let that stop you. Try out beginners’ classes or start with some easy laps in 10–15 minute stretches. As your strength begins to build, you’ll be ready to join in more rigorous water activities and more fully enjoy the wide range of benefits swimming has to offer.