WATER ACTIVE: Swimming is a brilliant form of exercise for Seniors, and it's never too late to learn.
WATER ACTIVE: Swimming is a brilliant form of exercise for Seniors, and it's never too late to learn. RuslanDashinsky

Active Ageing: Swimming to save our lives

WHETHER you move to win or move to stay well, swimming is one of the best choices you can make to live a happy, healthy life.

While you are digging in the back of your cupboard for your togs and towel, take a look at why swimming is rated so highly by health professionals such as accredited exercise physiologist Carly Ryan and what you can do join in this summer.

What's so good about it?

"It's a brilliant form of exercise," Carly said. "You get all the benefits of any other kind of physical exercise - cardiovascular, heart health, flexibility, weight management and improved mental health.

"Because the water has resistance it is really good for muscle strength.

"It's a brilliant, all round activity that is going to give you lots and lots of health benefits.

"And if you have joint problems, the water really supports you. The water helps you to reduce the pain and you can do a lot more activity in it than you can do on the land."

Other advantages of swimming are it's accessible to all ages, affordable, and you can start with just a pair of swimmers and a towel.

Mixing it up

Any form of exercise in the water is going to be good, whether you are swimming in a pool or the ocean.

You can choose your approach by enjoying a solo lap or two, joining in a social group at your local beach or swimming pool, getting more focused with aqua aerobics classes, joining an ocean swimming group, doing pool group lap training or even taking up masters swimming competition.

Some pool managers offer pool-based Tai Chi and yoga, walking, dance classes and even pole dancing, just to mix up the fun of swimming exercise.

In the ocean, in addition to lap swimming, you can also try swinging your arms and legs, doing squats and calf raises.

Pool swimming

To find a pool nearby, contact your local council or go to www.swimming.org.au/Swim-Finder.aspx

If you are swimming in a home or retirement village pool, and you are not sure of your fitness, consider wearing a lifejacket or accredited flotation device while in the water.

In the ocean

Before heading out for an ocean swim, take some advice from Surf Lifesaving Australia -

  • Always swim between the red and yellow flags;
  • Read the safety signs;
  • Ask a lifeguard for safety advice;
  • Swim with a friend;
  • Stay calm and attract attention if you need help; and
  • If in doubt, don't go out.

Training aids

There are many to choose from which you can spend a lot or a little on, but before you invest in a kickboard, flippers or resistance equipment, ask your pool supervisor, exercise physiologist, physiotherapist or GP about what is most likely to benefit you.

It's also worth asking the staff or exercise specialist at the pool how to use these exercise aids.

"It's always good to start small and build gradually," Carly said. "And listen to your body."

Starting in a class is another good way to get moving and to learn how to use the aids.

Am I too old to learn?

You are never too old to learn. "Even walking in the water is a really great place to start," Carly said.

"Learn how to float and do a little bit of swimming.

"Everyone can do it."

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