If you haven’t given water workouts a try, you’re missing out on one of the best low-impact workouts you can do! Swimming and water aerobics are the ideal way to get your heart rate up while being easy on your joints. The buoyancy of water lessens the pull of gravity, making you feel lighter and more balanced while also reducing the impact on your knees. This also makes the same moves that would be difficult to do on land feel easier in the pool. Water aerobic exercises are a great option for seniors who have problems with balance, sciatica pain, or issues with their joints, including arthritis. However, pool exercises for seniors aren’t just for seniors, this is a water workout that anyone can (and should!) do!
The below water workouts for seniors will help to burn calories and build strength at the same time by combining high-intensity cardio moves with plyometric exercises. In less than 30 minutes, you’ll blast fat and add muscle—no swim caps required.
Benefits of Pool Exercises For Seniors
There are so many reasons to take your workout to the pool this summer (not to mention it offers you a way to get outdoors)! Water aerobic exercise helps you burn fat, build stamina, and is easy on your joints.
Next time you’re feeling bored with your elliptical or walking workout routine and want a fun, new challenge, remind yourself of the benefits of pool workouts:
1. Pool Exercises Are Low Impact
It’s not just seniors that benefit from the low-impact option water workouts provide. Whether you suffer from joint pain, you’re just getting back into exercise after some time off, or you simply want a lower-impact form of exercise to offset some higher-impact activities you do (running, HIIT workouts), water workouts are perfect for you.
2. But Offers Added Resistance
Still, don’t confuse low-impact with low intensity; the water acts as natural resistance for each of your moves. Resistance in water can be anywhere from 4 to 42 times greater than on land, making a pool or body of water a natural weight training machine! Unlike machines, though, water provides resistance to movement in any direction.
3. Burns Mega Calories
Because of the added resistance in the water, you’re actually working harder than you would on land to complete the same movement, even if it doesn’t feel like that.
Seniors who incorporate pool exercise can effectively burn more calories than land exercise when doing the same movements (walking, for example). Plus, water workouts combine strength movements with cardio, and we all know that when your workout combines cardio and strength, it’s more effective at helping you lose weight.
4. Builds Cardio Endurance
Not only will you tone muscle with water workouts, but you will also increase your cardio endurance. When you’re in cooler water, your blood moves through your body quicker in order to warm you up. When you pair that with aerobic exercise, you get improved cardiovascular endurance, yet another reason why water aerobics is so great for seniors!
5. Makes You More Flexible
The way your body moves through the water when paired with the resistance it provides, naturally stretches out your muscles. Whether you’re not naturally flexible or you have a limited range of motion due to a recent injury, arthritis, or other conditions, water workouts can help increase your flexibility over time.
Related: Best Home Gym Equipment For Seniors
Water Aerobics Equipment
When it comes to water workouts, it can be helpful to make use of water aerobics equipment. Here are a few of our favorite items to use for a pool workout.
A resistance band is a great piece of equipment for water aerobics. While the water does act as natural resistance, a resistance band can provide an additional boost. I like SPRI’s Xertube ($15).
Water weights, or pool weights, are just dumbbells that are made for the water. You can use them just as you would use dumbbells in a normal strength workout. Try bicep curls, flyers, shoulder shrugs or lateral raises with water weights in the pool for some great strength-building exercises.
If pool exercises are something you take advantage of regularly, waterproof water or a timer can be another great piece of equipment for water aerobics. The below pool exercises for seniors are timed, and thus, it’s convenient to have a waterproof time-piece that can count for you.
Below you will find two separate pool workouts for seniors. One uses water aerobic equipment while the other does not, so no matter what you have (or don’t have), there is still a great pool workout for you.
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30-Minute Pool Workout For Seniors
Now that you know the amazing benefits of taking your workout to the water and some useful water aerobic equipment, it’s time to dive into this 30-minute pool workout for seniors that will blast fat and build muscle.
What You’ll Need:
- A pool, or another water source, where you can stand in chest-deep water
- A resistance band
- A waterproof watch, timer, or heart-rate monitor to time sets
- Start with a 2-minute warm-up of treading water or easy swimming.
- Do each circuit three times.
- Between each circuit, do 1 minute each of cardio moves (included over on the full workout at Prevention.com!)
- Cool down with 1 minute of full-body stretching.
Total workout time: 30 minutes
1. Tick-Tock With Upright Row
Targets: Legs, shoulders, upper back, abs
Stand on band with both feet, right handle in left hand and left handle in right hand (a). Lift right leg out to the side, pulling handles toward shoulders (b). Return to start, and repeat with the opposite leg. Continue alternating legs for 1 minute to complete 1 set.
2. Squats To Overhead Shoulder Press
Targets: Legs, butt, shoulders, abs
Stand on the band with both feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart, holding one handle in each hand. Squat as though sitting down in an imaginary chair, keeping knees behind toes (a). Pause; stand up, pressing hands overhead (b). Repeat for 1 minute to complete 1 set.
Related: The Beginner’s Guide To Swimming
3. Chest Fly
Targets: Chest, shoulders, abs
Stand with right foot 2 to 3 feet in front of left foot, left foot on top of band, holding handles at chest level with elbows bent (a). Press handles forward, extending arms in front of chest (b). Return to start, and continue for 1 minute to complete 1 set.
4. Overhead Pull With Knee Lift
Targets: Arms, shoulders, back, abs, legs
Start with arms extended overhead, shoulder-width apart, one handle in each hand and band wrapped around the hands to reach desired resistance. Lift left knee (a). Lower hands toward water while pulling band out to sides, squeezing shoulder blades together. Simultaneously switch legs, lifting right knee (b). Repeat for 1 minute to complete 1 set.
For the rest of this workout, go to Prevention.com!
No-Equipment Pool Workout For Seniors
Don’t have a resistance band, or just want another pool workout to save up for a sunny day? Try the below no-equipment pool workout for seniors. We also have a great water aerobics video that details each move.
Perform the designated amount of time or reps as indicated below. Repeat 2 or 3 times for a solid workout!
Exercise #1: Twisters
- Start by standing with both feet together.
- Jump and tuck both knees into your chest, while tucking and twisting towards one side first.
- Jump back in the center and twist to the opposite side with the same movement.
- Continue jumping and twisting knees to the opposite side, using the oblique and core muscles to bring the knees into the chest.
Perform this move for 30 seconds. Take a 30-second rest and repeat x 3 sets. It is important to note that jumping in a pool is low impact. It does not impact your joints as it does on land.
Targets: Legs, Core, and Obliques
Exercise #2: Core Rotators
- Start by firmly planting the feet a little wider than hip-width distance apart in a half squat position.
- Stretch arms out long in front of you, pressing the palms firmly together.
- Twist the arms across the body, by using the obliques to rotate to one side.
- Twist towards the opposite side by rotating the obliques and pushing against the resistance of water with your arms stretched long.
Rotate from side to side for 30 seconds to work the core, take a 30-second rest and repeat x 3 sets.
Targets: Core and Obliques
Exercise #3: Leg Lifts
- Start by going into the corner of a pool so you can use the ledge for upper body support.
- Place your upper body outside of the pool on top of the ledge.
- Firmly press the entire back against the wall of the pool.
- Use your upper body and core strength to lift the legs up and down.
Lift and lower the legs for 30 seconds at a time. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat x 3 sets. You will find that the pool creates resistance as you lift and lower your legs back down.
Trainer Tip: try to keep the back touching the wall of the pool the entire time to protect your back and use the abdominals.
Targets: Lower Abdominals
Exercise #4: Crunches
- Begin by placing the legs on top of the pool deck.
- Place your hands behind your head.
- Engage the lower abdominal muscles and squeeze your shoulders to lift out of the water.
- Release and lower yourself back down to the starting position.
Repeat for 15 reps each x 3 sets. In between sets, take a 30-second rest to come off the wall and return back to the wall to complete the next set.
Trainer Tip: this range of motion can be very small, but very effective. Keep your elbows wide and squeeze the center core to lift and lower!