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!
More Low-Impact Workouts To Try
A Low Impact, High-Results Workout To Do At Home
5 Non-Running Cardio Workouts For Bad Knees
5 Exercise Modifications For Bad Knees and A Low-Impact Workout Plan
Judy on December 2, 2022 at 8:46 AM
Hi! I went to water therapy with a PT for mobility issues due to arthritis. It’s been a years and a half away but just started back on my own. Went for two consecutive days for 35 minutes. Today I’m very sore. Do I go back today or rest? Do you have any schedule recommendations? I think 3 times per week for 30-40 minutes was what I had with PT.
Chris Freytag, CPT on December 27, 2022 at 1:07 PM
Hi Judy - Pool workouts are excellent for anyone suffering with arthritis. This keeps it low impact on the joints and muscles. We hope you are finding that it helps you as well. If you are super sore taking a rest day is not a bad thing. If you think you can work through the muscle soreness and movement feels good I would say you can go back today. It all depends on the level of soreness, but always listen to your body. 3 times a week for 30-40 minutes is more than beneficial and a great cardio workout as well!
Martin3220 on June 25, 2022 at 8:21 AM
Yes. Everything is correct. My mother did not know how to swim until she was 55 - she swam 15 meters with difficulty and panting. Went to the pool at the age of 55 years and 6 months. Today is exactly 11 years since she swims, now she is 66 years old. The bottom line is this: breaststroke swims (correctly!), swims on the back - decently. And the crawl, she mastered it last - she was still afraid to step up. Speed, of course, can not boast. Any style swims one and a half kilometers per hour. Swims three times a week - with pleasure. Huge! All styles mastered almost independently.
Pain Management Clinic on June 6, 2022 at 6:04 AM
"Pool-strolling exercises can be basically as lengthy or short as you like, yet 20-45 minutes is a decent period of time to get your pulse up and in the zone that permits you to chip away at cardiovascular wellbeing,"
Aleksandra Włodarczyk Aqua Zumba Bydgoszcz on December 16, 2021 at 5:21 PM
I'm an Aqua Zumba Instructor from Bydgoszcz. I'm teaching the water version of tha Zumba. It's one of the most choosen water excercises by seniors and people with less movement abilities. The low impact and excercises healthy for joints can be performed by almost every person, even a pregnant woman. And those kind of the aqua fitness classes have also one additional aspect - great fun for the participants.
Nancy on July 9, 2021 at 12:15 PM
Hi, I have MS and I would love to get stronger. Do you have any more exercises for someone with MS? Either in the water or out?
Chris Freytag, CPT on July 15, 2021 at 2:25 PM
Well everybody’s MS is different. And everybody has different degrees. I have worked with some who are still doing every day normal impact activities. And I also have worked with a few women who need low impact or even seated workouts. Depending on your situation we do have a lot of low impact workouts, we also have yoga and flexibility workouts which are super friendly to auto immune diseases. We also have chair workouts and indoor walking workouts. So as you can see there’s a variety. Check it out at www.gethealthyutv.com. We always give a deal for the first year of membership if this is something that interests you!
Sheryl on July 8, 2021 at 5:50 AM
Is there a waterproof watch that will a pedometer that will count your steps in the water?
Chris Freytag, CPT on July 8, 2021 at 10:19 PM
Hi Sheryl - so you would want to do some searching on the internet and compare/ contrast some of the waterproof watches out there depending on what you are looking for. But after doing some research on waterproof watches here are the ones that are recommended to be the best: Garmen Forerunner 735XT Polar M430 Apple Watch Series 5 (this is good for swimming, but not sure if it will be accurate in counting steps in the water)
Cheri on July 7, 2021 at 1:11 PM
Can you share what type of shoe she is wearing in photos please?
Chris Freytag, CPT on July 8, 2021 at 9:20 PM
Hi Cheri - Yes these are the Nike Winflo 7's. They are my favorite shoes to wear for any type of physical activity!
Paul Mouradian on August 23, 2018 at 8:25 PM
I am quite disappointed in the free 30 minute exercise promised in the download when you offer up your email address. Only 6 exercises for 2 minutes each!!!
Chris Freytag on August 28, 2018 at 11:57 AM
Hi Paul - we're so sorry about that! You are right - the download should have more instructions on how to reach 30 minutes of exercise. We will revise - thanks!
Ashley on June 25, 2018 at 9:04 PM
Do you have a print out for the exercise without the band?
Chris Freytag on June 27, 2018 at 9:31 AM
Hi Ashley - We don't have an official print out but here is the workout: Do 1 minute of each exercise with 1 minute rest in between each exercise. Repeat 2 or 3 times for a solid workout! 💧 Twisters 💧 Core Rotators 💧 Leg Lifts 💧 Crunches
Len on May 16, 2018 at 1:24 AM
This is great, my wife does benefit from these exercises, and she feels energised after being in the pool. My self I just swim breast stroke, frog crawl alternately. Thank you. I live in Cyprus now and you can't swim outside all year in England, here you can.