Staying active is the best way to maintain mobility and health as you age, but exercise can be difficult if you have joint pain or other medical issues. Pool exercises allow you to stay active without putting excess stress on your joints. In fact, the buoyancy of the water actually reduces stress on the joints, helping you find relief.
To improve your strength and mobility, we suggest that you try adding the following pool exercises to your weekly workout routine.
Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any exercise routine, and be aware of your limits.
1. Flutter Kicks
Flutter kicks are a great low-impact exercise that will get your heart rate up. You can perform this exercise with or without a kickboard.
If using a kickboard:
- Hold the board in front of you.
- Flutter kick with your legs to propel yourself across the pool.
If you can’t use a kickboard:
- Perform a front float while keeping your head above the water and holding onto one side of the pool.
- Flutter kick with your legs.
It doesn’t matter which method you choose. The important thing is to kick at a steady pace to avoid tiring yourself out.
2. Leg Swings
Leg swings are a great way to strengthen your upper leg muscles, and keep your hips strong and flexible.
To perform leg swings:
- Stand at one side of the pool. The water should be deep enough to reach your lower back.
- Hold on to the edge of the pool.
- Swing the outside leg forward, and hold for five seconds. Make sure your other leg is straight.
- Swing the outside leg backward, and hold for five seconds.
- Repeat in both directions 12 times.
- Repeat on the other side.
3. Arm Curls
Water arm curls are a great way to maintain upper body strength. For this exercise, you’ll need a pair of water weights.
While standing in the middle of the pool:
- Hold the weights directly out in front of you. Keep your palms facing out.
- Curl the weights up, and then back down.
- Repeat until your arms are fatigued.
Arm curls can also be performed with the palms facing toward you, like a conventional bicep curl exercise. The resistance of the water makes this exercises surprisingly effective.
4. Arm Circles
Arm circles are a great way to work your upper body, but they’re also fun to do. Find an area along the edge of the pool where the water reaches your neck. Standing next to the edge of the pool will help you catch your balance if necessary.
- Stand with one foot in front of you and one foot behind you.
- Lift your arms out to the side until they are just below the surface of the water.
- Keep your arms straight and your palms down.
- Move your arms in a circular motion.
- Continue moving your arms in a circular motion for 10-15 seconds in one direction.
- Repeat in the other direction.
Making circles at a rigorous pace will help get your heart rate up while strengthening your shoulders and upper back.
Swimming is another great way to exercise in the pool. Not only does it deliver a great cardiovascular workout, but it also works the entire body. Along with heart and lung function, swimming also improves muscle strength and tone.
It’s also a low-impact exercise that can burn as much as 600 calories per hour.
But for swimming to be an effective form of exercise, you need to move at a challenging pace. Leisurely swims may be enjoyable, but the goal is to raise your heart rate.
6. Water Marching
Water marches will get your whole body moving, and boost your heart rate at the same time.
To perform this exercise, find a spot in the pool where the water reaches your chest.
- Standing straight, extend your arms and legs as far as possible in a marching motion.
- Keep your toes pointed, and move your arms with energy.
- March until you are out of breath.
The resistance from the water will make the exercise more challenging, which will help you build strength. Aim for a rhythmic march, and keep a steady pace.
7. Chest Fly
Bring this classic gym workout to the pool to minimize its impact on your joints. Chest flys can be performed with or without water weights, but weights will help you build or maintain strength.
Start out by standing in water that’s chest-high.
- Hold your arms in front of you at chest height.
- Palms should be facing each other, and sitting just below the surface of the water.
- Push your arms out to the side.
- Push your arms back to the center.
- Repeat 10 times.
8. Calf Raises
Calf raises work your calves, which helps promote healthy lower body strength.
To perform this exercise, stand in water that’s at least waist-deep and near the edge of the pool or near the ladder.
- Shift your weight forward to the balls of your feet.
- Lift up your heels to stand on your toes.
- Hold for few seconds, and lower down your heels.
- Repeat 10 times.
These eight pool exercises can help you stay active without putting any excess strain on your joints. They’re fun, too, so it doesn’t even feel like you are exercising.
Have You Tried Yoga?
Another great way to get a gentle workout is through yoga. With these simple flowing movements you can work out your whole body in one session. There are a lot of great benefits as well including. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should.
Tim is a professional caregiver who has helped hundreds of seniors gain back their freedom and independence. He has been actively helping the senior community for 20+ years.