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Water Exercises Give Seniors Increased Strength, Stimulation and Quality of Life

Kari Richie
By Kari Richie
Springmoor Health and Fitness Director
Swimming is not just for kids or vacationers at the beach. You can find Springmoor residents in the pool Monday through Saturday as they faithfully participate in water exercise. The residents are unique – ranging in age from 77 to 96—and living with various health conditions—ranging from arthritis and osteoporosis to hypertension and  spinal stenosis and joint replacements; but they have one thing in common – they love to exercise in the water!
As Springmoor’s Health & Fitness Director, why do I encourage residents to participate in water exercise? Five reasons:

1)   Water-based exercise can help those living with chronic diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with arthritis can improve the use of affected joints without worsening symptoms. Springmoor resident, Martha, who is 77 and has lived with COPD for five years, says it best, “You can make your limbs move in a way you can’t on land and it makes all the pains go away… even the small ones!”
2)   Water-based exercise can improve mental health. The CDC also mentions that exercise therapy in warm water can decrease depression and improve mood. I believe Springmoor residents can experience this because of the socialization and support the group exercise classes provide. Avid swimmer Beulah, 96, said, “I enjoy the exercise in the water and the people who join me. I appreciate them as much as I appreciate the pool!
3)    Water-based exercise can benefit older adults by improving the quality of life and decreasing disability. Beulah lives with a herniated disc and shared: “It hurts everyday, but that hasn’t stopped me!” She is an active and inspiring woman who is quick to echo the benefits of water exercise: “Exercise has kept me alive! The longer we live, the more we should enjoy exercise – especially at a place like Springmoor.”
4)   Water-based exercise provides a gentle environment. It’s the perfect setting for exercise if someone struggles with pain, limited joint mobility or recovering from surgery/injury. Ann is the perfect example. At 84, she had a total knee replacement. She was faithful in the water before her surgery and was “mighty anxious to get back in there” after her surgery. The water exercise before her knee replacement surgery helped strengthen the muscles, and once she completed physical therapy, Ann got right back in the pool. Everyone was inspired by her work ethic and recovery. In Ann’s words, the surgery was “successful” and her previous water exercise “prepared me and made me strong e
nough to have a good life!”
5)   Water-based exercise is FUN! I asked Martha why she participated in water exercise and her answer made me smile: “It is more fun than any other exercise. I think everybody should enjoy the water the way I do!”

I hope this inspires someone to find their bathing suit and to give the water a try. I am encouraged and blessed every time I teach in the water and get to spend time with amazing residents. Now that I’m halfway through my pregnancy, I get to experience the benefits of the water as well!
Thursday Morning Aquacise! (Beulah is fourth from the left)



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