Water Aerobics Classes and Swimming for Seniors

Posted: June 15, 2019 at 11:45 pm


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By Jim Thornton |May 2, 2019

Think the fountain of youth is a myth? Not so fast. Researchers at the University of South Carolina department of exercise science have uncovered evidence that it may be quite real.

The wrinkle: You dont drink it. You exercise in it.

In a long-term study, researchers analyzed health data from 40,547 men between the ages of 20 and 90. At the beginning of the study, each volunteer was assessed on a variety of measures: cholesterol levels, blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, smoking, alcohol use, and exercise habits. All told, 15,883 of the men reported engaging in no exercise at all. Another 3,746 walked regularly; 20,356 ran; and 562 stayed fit by swimming.

The researchers followed each groups respective fate for an average of 13 years. By the end of the study, some 3,386 overall had died. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Reaper took its greatest toll on the sedentary guys, 11 percent of whom had succumbed. Walkers fared betterjust under 8 percent died. Runners did better still, with a death rate of 6.6 percent. The real surprise, however, occurred in the swimmers. Less than 2 percent had perished by the studys end.

Steven Blair, P.E.D., lead researcher of the study, cautions against overstating the results because the number of swimmers in the study was relatively small compared to the other groups. Swimmers did have the lowest death rate, about 50 percent lower than the other activity groups, he says. Still, Im unwilling to go out on the limb too far and declare that swimming is actually better than running in reducing mortality risk.

I think the main message, he continues, is that swimming appears to have definite survival benefits.

Bragging rights aside, swimming does have advantages over land-based exercise. Chief among them: low injury rates. Running, tennis, and team sports are associated with a higher risk of injuries among adults, according to a study in the International Journal of Epidemiology. Swimming, by contrast, is notwhich is one reason so many exercise physiologists tout it as an ideal lifelong sport.

Provided you practice good technique, swimming is an extremely forgiving form of exercise, says Joel Stager, Ph.D., director of the Indiana University Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming. Working out in water is largely non-impact, he says. There isnt nearly as much wear and tear on the joints as there is in running.

For some people, such joint-friendliness can mean the difference between staying active and hardly moving at all. Older adults with arthritis, heart disease, prior injuries, or extra weight may find even slow walking too painful or difficult. Not so in your local swimming hole, thanks to the buoyancy of water.

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June 15th, 2019 at 11:45 pm

Posted in Aerobics