Swimming is one of the best low-impact exercises, but did you know that the benefits of swimming for older people or those with Alzheimer’s can be life changing? More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s right now. If you include other types of dementia the statistic increases to one in three seniors. November is National Alzheimer’s Disease and Awareness Month, and Harvard Medical School, the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Foundation of America agree that regular exercise — specifically swimming — can improve the symptoms or delay the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, regular exercise keeps the heart healthy, bones and muscles strong, reduces risk of cancer and diabetes, improves balance, boosts self esteem and self confidence, and improves mood. Ideally, seniors should engage in exercises that improves balance, flexibility, endurance and strength. Walking, tai chi, modified yoga and swimming are all great exercise options for seniors that medical experts recommend. Swimming and other water exercises can improve all four aspects of exercise — flexibility, endurance, balance and strength — with very low risk of injury. Also, for those with painful feet, pool exercises and swimming offer a way to exercise without putting pressure on the feet. Signing up for a water aerobics class, aqua jogging, kicking with a board, using foam water weights for resistance exercises or even swimming a few laps are all great options for a safe and effective exercise for seniors. For safety, anytime anyone is in the pool, they should have a lifeguard present, so looking for a supervised class or going to a public pool with lifeguards on staff is the safest option for seniors. Everyone, not just those with dementia or those hoping to delay onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s, should make regular exercise part of their lifestyle. Take care of your body and your body will take care of you. Swimming and water-based activities are fun, easy, safe and effective ways to exercise, especially for the elderly. Take your grandmother or grandfather swimming. Above is a picture of me and my 92-year-old grandmother going to her swimming class together!
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