Why swimming is the best exercise for seniors

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A study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found that swimming is perhaps the most important work out for senior citizens. Find out why.

Most medical professionals will sing the praises of swimming. From improving lung capacity and cardiovascular functions to toning muscles, swimming is an excellent form of exercise.
Additionally, a study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found that swimming is perhaps the most important work out for senior citizens, because it single-handedly targets the most concerning health risks for older people.
Study supports senior swimming
The research, published by the Oxford University Press in 2014, observed 1,667 older Australian men as part of the Concord Health and Ageing in Men Project (CHAMP). Their mean age was about 77 years.
For six years during 2005 and 2011, any phone calls that reported falls and injuries were recorded. In total, there were 2,662 falls across this group of participants. However, the data also allowed the researchers to see what types of activities helped these men reduce the likelihood of falling and getting hurt.
While a variety of physical activities were studied, including golfing, walking, gardening and regular chores, the researchers found that swimming “was the only activity that was associated with a protective effect”. In fact, the study found that senior men who swim are 33 per cent less likely to fall down than men that don’t get in the pool.
This is largely because swimming on a regular basis builds balance training and strengthens the core muscles, both of which are crucial for avoiding falls. As the study noted, “balance training is the most efficacious exercise to prevent falls” and “swimmers had significantly lower postural sway” meaning their balance was in check.

Avoiding falls

Unfortunately, 83,800 Australians over the age of 65 were hospitalised due to falls during 2009-2010, according to Home Instead Senior Care. This was 5,100 more falls than the previous year. Additionally, every single year one in three seniors has a fall, with 10 per cent falling multiple times and 30 per cent sustaining injuries severe enough to require medical attention. Hip and thigh injuries were most common, while head injuries were rarer but still accounted for 20 per cent of seniors.
Given these statistics, it is extremely important for seniors to build their health and fitness to avoid falling, or minimising the risks as best they can. Reach out to your beloved elders and ask them to enrol in a swimming class.
SGAC has a wide variety of fun swimming sessions on offer. With two 25-metre-long pools, there is plenty of space to exercise and the lap pool is dedicated for swimmers keen to swim laps without any interference.

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