If you are looking for a sport you can start at any age to help you stay fit and continue your whole life long, check out swimming, a top expert says.
“Swimming is a wonderful way to keep fit and it’s ideal for older people because it is a lifelong activity. It’s the true sport for longevity,” Terri Schneider tells Newsmax Health.
But unlike other endurance activities - like running – swimming is not weight-bearing, so it doesn’t cause joint problems,” adds Schneider, an ultra-endurance athlete and exercise physiologist whose new book is "The Swimmer’s Workout Handbook.”
Non-weight-bearing means your body is not working againt the force of gravity
Swimming offers bountiful benefits, especially in middle-aged people who may find their exercise restricted due to arthritis and other joint problems, adds Schneider.
Research notes that swimming is ideal for older people who might otherwise be sedentary, and therefore at increased risk for a host of deadly and chronic ills as they age, including heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
Studies also find that swimmers also have less body fat, more cardiovascular endurance, lower blood pressure, increased flexibility, a better blood lipid profile and healthier arteries.
“Swimming builds cardiovascular endurance as well as muscle strength,” Schneider says.
“Another great advantage is that the water is very forgiving to older bodies, so you can swim for your entire life,” she adds.
Here are Schneider’s tips for newcomers to swimming – and for those who haven’t been in the pool in awhile:
Get the right gear:
- Buy a comfortable bathing suit. There are many types and brands, just make sure the one you choose is comfortable, streamlined in the water, and that you enjoy wearing it.
- Get goggles. Goggles protect your eyes from salt water or chemicals in a pool and help you see clearly both above and below the water. Make sure they fit your face and are comfortable to wear for long periods of time. If they are adjustable in the nosepiece and head strap, there’s a better chance they won’t leak. Go to a sporting goods store and try on a few pairs before you find the right ones for you.
- Wear earplugs. Although they are considered optional, swimmers should wear them because water can become trapped in your ear canal. Also, when your skin is soggy, bacteria can penetrate your skin easier and bacteria and fungi from contaminated water can cause an infection known as “swimmer’s ear.” Earplugs will prevent this problem.
- Wear a swim cap. Swim caps have improved over the years. When you purchase a swim cap, choose one that doesn’t pull your hair when you put it on, and stays on your head when swimming long distances. Silicone ones cost a bit more, but they are generally comfortable and longer lasting.
- Bring a water bottle to the pool. This may seem odd, as you’ll be surrounded by water, but swimming takes exertion and can be dehydrating.
- Additional gear is optional but can increase your enjoyment and lessen boredom. Kickboards, pull buoys and paddles are fun, and fins can strengthen your legs and help teach you proper positioning. Don’t use swim paddles if you have shoulder issues.
Here are Schneider’s tips to get the most out of swimming:
- Take a few lessons. Particularly if you haven’t been swimming in a while, lessons can refresh your memory, and provide you with basic techniques that will make swimming more fun.
- Get started by swimming two days a week and walking or doing another type of weight-bearing exercise on the third day. Walking is a weight-bearing exercise, which is good to help prevent osteoporosis, the "brittle bone" disease of again.
- Set a goal. If you’re swimming laps, set a goal, like gradually increasing the number of laps or the length of the distance you’re swimming to keep from getting bored.
- Find a community swimming program. People think they have to be master level swimmers, but usually, this isn’t true. Usually, the coaches are happy to work with anyone on any level.
- Don’t be overly concerned about how you look in a bathing suit. You’ll find people from all walks of life enjoying their time in the pool, so no matter what your size or your age, if you swim, you’re going to be in good company.
© 2023 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.