I love working with this group of individuals not only because I get the latest scoop on the happenings in our town, but also because it allows me to interact with men and women who have been alive for quite some time.
Most of the participants are 40-plus and some are even in their late 80s. They all have one thing in common — they understand how important it is to keep moving!
The class focuses on slow, gentle movement of all the joints and if one peeked in on this class, they may think there are no real benefits with this form of exercise. A lot of people still think water exercise is something that is done by grandmothers in flowery swim caps.
Yes, there are a large number of older adults (including grandmothers) that use water as their main exercise environment, but people of all ages and abilities are getting a feel for water exercise. The water is the perfect place to move because it decreases pressure on the joints. Buoyancy is something everyone experiences in the water and it provides support for the body.
Did you know that your body weight in water is different than on land? At waist level, a person only weighs 50 percent of their normal body weight. Chest level is 25 percent of normal weight and neck level is only 15 percent of normal body weight.
How awesome is that?!
So a 150-pound person standing waist deep in water is only 75 pounds. Doesn’t that make you want to go live in the water? Unfortunately, you would just become a giant prune so you’ll just have to settle with some water workouts several days a week.
Another great advantage of water exercise besides the decrease pressure on the joints is the constant, even resistance the water gives. The buoyancy helps provide resistance to muscle groups that may not otherwise be worked on land especially if you have a medical condition that limits movement i.e. arthritis, fibromyalgia.
You can increase or decrease resistance just by changing the speed, type, depth of water or surface area in the water. If you want to make it even more challenging, you can add in equipment such as foam dumbbells, kickboards, noodles, bands and much more. Another cool thing about water exercise is that it increases body circulation which helps decrease stress on the heart. Water is a great place to cross train and rehab an injury. It has been neat to see athletes use the pool as an area for some of their training.
Finally, the water is a fun environment and as the days grow warmer, the water becomes even more inviting. So jump in, take a dip and do yourself a favor…. get moving in the water!
Lange House is the wellness director for the Rome-Floyd County YMCA.