Get Grandma to the Pool!

Swimming indoors provides low-impact exercise year-round

By George M. Withers

Claudette Fleury says signing up at her local pool in Lasalle helped make all the difference to her quality of life. “I joined on my 70th birthday, and 10 years later I certainly feel better than I did at 69,” she says, adding that the water keeps her cool and energized, helping to extend her workout. “Exercising in the pool is a joy when it’s so much easier on my joints and muscles. It doesn’t feel like a workout or a chore.”

Ken Stockton, a triathlon athlete and trainer who primarily works with the elderly, says the pool is a great setting for a medium-intensity workout without leaving his clients spent or sore. “Because they’re not straining or sweating, they can go a little longer. Best of all, swimming involves the entire body.”

That means pool exercises also help increase flexibility, something we have to keep working at as we age. Moreover, water lends buoyancy, which means people like Mrs. Fleury can float through her exercise session without putting pressure on her 80-year-old joints. See some of the exercise suggestions from both Mr. Stockton and Mrs. Fleury.

It might seem counterintuitive, but running laps in the pool makes a lot of sense. The added resistance from the water helps increase heart rate while exerting none of the stress on joints that a conventional jog around the block would. Go at your own pace. Do laps in intervals. Combine running with another exercise like lunges.

A lunge is where one leg is ahead of the body — knee bent and foot flat on the ground — while the other leg is positioned behind the body. The water will test your stability and force you to engage your core muscles while strengthening leg muscles. Do this in the shallow end of the pool. Start with a set of five and work your way up.

Hang on to the side of the pool. Extend your legs behind you while you flutter and kick as though you were swimming in one place. Mix in some sets of hip kicks, too. Use your left arm to hang on to the wall of the pool. Kick your right leg straight ahead and return it to standing position. Now the same leg to the side. Do a set of five, depending on your fitness level and then switch legs.

Stay by the side of the pool. Lift your body as high as you can and then ease your body back down. To add a little extra oomph, hold your uppermost position for three seconds and slowly lower yourself back into the water. You can make the exercise as easy or difficult as you want by varying water depth, reps, and length of hold.


Winter 2019, Vol 11 N°1

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