Dr Richa Kulkarni offers some fun water aerobics for the elderly.
Water aerobics is a low impact exercise, as water provides a natural resistance to the human body. Exercising in the water helps strengthen the muscles in the body and also takes off the pressure from the bones and joints. Water aerobics provides many health benefits such as improving cardio-respiratory fitness, reducing stress and increasing muscular strength and endurance. Doing water aerobics for at least thrice a week helps improve the health and quality of life.
It is not necessary to know how to swim in order to exercise in water. There are many other forms of exercises which can be done in water with proper supervision. Exercising in water is a great way to include physical activity in your life. It is a good way to start with some form of exercise if you do not work out regularly.
To begin with, you can do water walking in the swimming pool. A water level of up to the waist is ideal for the beginners. Water walking is the same as walking on the land. It is recommended to do water walking for 10-15 minutes every day.
Water aerobics is advisable for all age groups. For people above 70 years, high intensity water exercises are advised only with the consent of their physiotherapist. Otherwise, water walking is the best form of exercise for this age group.
Exercises in water
Start your routine with water walking for about 5-10 minutes. Start by slowly walking in the water. Ensure that the water level reaches to your waist. Walk back and forth by swinging your arms. Tighten your abdominal muscles, keep your back straight and feet flat on the floor in the pool. Gradually increase your intensity and extend the legs fully to take long and swift drives. Jumping jacks can also be done in the water for warm up.
This exercise strengthens the back, chest, abdominal muscles, hamstrings and buttock muscles. It tones the complete body. Begin by treading in the deep end of the pool while making small circular motions with cupped hands. Lift your left leg by keeping it straight to the hip level while keeping your right leg firm on the bottom of the pool. Squeeze your quads and your buttocks and hold the pose for five seconds while continuing to make circles with your hands. Now, switch your legs and hold for another five seconds. Repeat this in alternating moves for 30 seconds.
Kick and punch
Kicking and punching in the water improves your heart health. It is a great option for a complete body workout as water has natural resistance. Stand in the water up to your neck level to ensure that the water is deep enough to keep your arms submerged. Stand by your side, lift your left leg and kick with your foot while you punch forward with your left hand. Keep your abdominal muscles tight and swiftly alternate between your arms and legs by kicking and punching in the water. You can also use props like foam water weights for additional strength training.
This exercise focuses on your lower body such as abdominal muscles, back, legs and buttock muscles. For this exercise, go deep into the water up to your chest level. Stand in the water by facing the pool wall. Hold below the water line for support by pointing your fingers down for stability. Extend your legs straight behind you at water level. Keep your knees and feet together and move your legs up and down like a dolphin’s flapping tail. Continue kicking fast and hard for about 30 seconds by flapping on the surface of the water. If you run out of breath, slow down and do some light flutter kicks by keeping your legs separated.
Other exercises Benefits
- Walking forward – 4 rounds
- Walking backwards – 4 rounds
- Side steps with jumping jack arms – 8 rounds
- Straight leg toe touch with arms alternately raised – 2 rounds
- Opposite arm and opposite leg movement with big range of motion – 2 rounds
- High knee jog with breaststroke arms – 2 rounds
- Back kick with arms alternately pushed to the front – 2 rounds
- Wide high knee jog – 2 rounds
- It is a low impact exercise form. Exercising in water makes you feel about 90 percent lighter. When you jump or run in the water, your body does not experience the same impact as it would on the land. This makes water aerobics an ideal activity for those with arthritis, back problems, foot or leg injuries and knee conditions.
- Water aerobics is also beneficial for pregnant women and obese people.
- It helps burn calories. An hour of water aerobics session can help burn between 400 and 500 calories. The actual amount you burn will depend on your body structure, the intensity of your movements as well as water temperature and depth. In general, faster movements incorporating the upper and lower body in deep water trigger greater calorie reduction.
- Studies have shown that when exercising in water, you work 12 times against the resistance of air. Simply kicking and cupping the water helps contribute to muscle development which promotes metabolism and makes the body healthy.
- Many water aerobics classes incorporate equipment like water paddles, single or double buoys and kickboards to promote further strengthening of the muscles. Push-ups or triceps dips performed on the pool deck also help build muscle strength.
Always consult your physiotherapist before starting a new exercise routine. Consider taking a water aerobics class to learn new exercises and proper form.
Water aerobics are advised to all age groups except for people above 70 years. People who are above the age of 70 are recommended to do only pool walking. Water aerobics are advised for them only if the doctor consents them as fit for it.
People between the ages of 40-60 years can do all types of exercises in the water if they don’t have any major problems.
Note: It is advised to consult your diabetologist and physiotherapist before starting any exercise regime. It is advised to do water aerobics in the presence of a healthcare professional.
Dr Richa Kulkarni is a consultant Physiotherapist.