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The benefits of water exercise as you age

There are stages of exercise for Connecticut resident Joe. The octogenarian wakes up knowing that he has to go exercise. As he’s working out, he’s thinking about how long it’s going to take him to finish the workout. And once he’s done? 

“I’m really glad I did that,” Joe says.

Joe, along with his wife Terry, has been exercising in an H2X swim spa for more than five years. Water exercise has allowed the couple to maintain their active lifestyle even as they age.

Not only does the warm water of the swim spa feel really good but the spa provides a safe environment to focus on balance, stability, and strength — all of which are crucial to reduce the risk of following.

Whether it’s swimming, water aerobics, or simply walking in water, water-based workouts have proven to be highly beneficial for all ages but seniors in particular. Incorporating a swim spa into an exercise routine is a fantastic option for seniors who want to maintain their overall fitness and well-being.

water exercise and aging

Benefits of water exercise for seniors

It’s no secret that regular exercise is a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. For older adults, this holds especially true. Exercise helps seniors maintain overall health, preserve muscle mass, and improve balance and coordination.

According to the guidelines set by health authorities, older adults should aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity. This could be as simple as a brisk walk, easy swim, or a water aerobics routine. 

Enhanced balance and stability

About 3 million older adults are treated in the emergency room for a fall injury each year, according to the CDC. Furthermore, falls are the leading cause of injuries among older adults.

But falling shouldn’t be a “normal” part of aging. Many fall prevention programs take a multi-faceted approach, including vitamin D supplements, vision checks, and low-impact exercise.  

Water exercise is a low-impact activity that can significantly enhance balance and stability. The buoyancy of water reduces the impact on joints while providing a safe and supportive environment to work on balance. The constant movement of water challenges the body to maintain stability, ultimately helping older adults improve their equilibrium.

If you are exercising in an H2X Fitness Swim Spas by Master Spas, you can perform single leg exercises that help strengthen the small muscles that stabilize the joints. Single leg step downs, an exercise that Joe has a love-hate relationship with, can help improve knee health and reduce pain. For those who struggle with balance, the side of the swim spa can be used for support.

water exercise for seniors

Weight-bearing without joint strain

Engaging in weight-bearing exercises on land can put stress on aging joints. Water exercise provides a safe alternative as the buoyancy of water supports body weight, reducing the pressure on joints while still strengthening muscles and bones. 

In addition, aquatic therapy pools — like a swim spa — have warmer water. The warmer water not only feels soothing but it increases circulation, relaxes the muscles, and improves mobility. Warm water exercise can be particularly beneficial for those with arthritis or joint pain, allowing them to exercise without exacerbating their conditions.

H2X swim spas have a temperature range of 78 degrees to 99 degrees. The easy-to-use control panel allows you to easily adjust the water temperature based on your comfort and how you plan to use the swim spa.

Aquatic therapy pools are typically set between 90 degrees and 95 degrees. It’s important that the water isn’t too warm so you don’t risk overheating or dehydration.

Cardiovascular conditioning

Exercise can help older adults improve their cardiovascular health. Research has found that increasing exercise can help people older than 60 reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by more than 10 percent.

While water exercise is great for strength and stability, it’s also great for your heart. Swimming, water walking, or even performing water aerobics increases heart rate and enhances cardiovascular endurance. 

Regular water-based workouts can lower blood pressure, improve circulation, and reduce the risk of heart disease. According to a study, one water workout per week can improve blood flow in the aorta. It even helped reduce stiffness in the aorta.

water exercise for seniors

Swim spa exercise for longevity

Exercise is good for the body but the body doesn’t always feel good during exercise. For older adults, that discomfort can be a barrier to exercise. In fact, one of the key reasons seniors aren’t as active as they should be is because pain — whether it’s in the back, knees, or shoulders — limits motivation. 

In the case of pain or discomfort, water exercise is often a way to move without adding stress to the joints. Water’s unique properties create a supportive and low-impact environment, while a swim spa provides a safe and comfortable space for those exercises.

Plus, the positive experience associated with water workouts in a swim spa may contribute to long-term adherence to an exercise routine.

Safe space for exercise

H2X swim spas are designed with safety in mind. Features such as grab bars, non-slip surfaces, and well-designed entry and exit points enhance the safety of the exercise environment, reducing the risk of slips and falls.

In particular, Joe is a fan of the SoftTread Non-Slip Comfort Flooring System. This unique material, which is similar to what you would see on a boat, has a unique combination of grip and cushion. It allows people to move and exercise confidently without the need for water shoes. 

Range of exercise options

From swimming against the current to rowing to resistance training, swim spas offer a range of exercise options. This versatility allows older adults to choose exercises that suit their preferences and address specific fitness goals.

Joe will often reference the H2Xercise book, which was written by Dr. Rick McAvoy, an expert in water-based fitness. The book includes water exercise programs, as well as ideas for using water exercise equipment such as resistance tubing and rowing bars. 

Among the exercises that you can do in a swim spa are water walking, leg lifts, side steps, flutter kicks, tricep extensions, and knees to chest.  These exercises are great for older adults as they help build strength and stability while improving your overall health. 

In addition, Master Spas has a library of videos on its YouTube channel. During Facebook Live events, swim spa specialists Ben Gilliam and Mari Cuticelli have shared thoughtfully designed swim spa workout ideas. The 15/90 Program, in particular, is a great place to start, Joe says. It begins with stretching and foundational exercises before moving on to more strength-based programming.

benefits of a swim spa

Convenience and comfort

For some older adults, self-consciousness about their fitness level or appearance may act as a barrier to exercising at the gym or local pool. Having an H2X swim spa at home eliminates the fear of judgment, fostering a sense of independence and promoting a more positive mindset toward exercise.

In addition, the convenience of a home swim spa allows them to exercise on their own terms. Older adults can easily fit a workout into their schedules without worrying about gym hours or class schedules.

Relaxation and hydrotherapy

H2X swim spas offer additional features such as hydrotherapy jets — just like a hot tub. The jets provide targeted massage to specific areas, helping to alleviate aches and pains, improve circulation, and enhance overall physical comfort. 

Take the StressRelief Neck and Shoulder Seat. The out-of-water jets are designed to relieve stress and tension in the neck and shoulders. The seat also features a unique pattern of jets for the back and hips. The jets can be adjusted, too, to dial in the water pressure so it’s just right. 

For older adults, the opportunity for target pain relief can be particularly helpful — especially if they struggle with chronic pain, inflammation, or muscle spasms. With less pain and increased mobility, they might find that they are more motivated to exercise and be more active throughout the day.

Water exercise is a fantastic option for seniors looking to maintain their overall fitness and well-being. Not only does it improve strength, balance, and stability, but it also allows for cardiovascular conditioning without putting excessive strain on aging joints. By investing in an H2X swim spa, older adults can enjoy the convenience and comfort of exercising at home.

water exercise and aging

How to buy a swim spa

Do you want to be able to swim, exercise, and relax at home? Having an H2X Fitness Swim Spa by Master Spas allows you to swim on your schedule while adding a fun factor to your backyard. You can click here to find out more about the benefits of hydrotherapy and relaxing in a swim spa. Or, contact your local Master Spas retailer to learn more about swim spa ownership. Wondering how much a swim spa costs? You can request a quote here.