Benefits of Aquatic Exercise on Heart Health
February is American Heart Month and the time individuals can focus on how to improve their cardiovascular health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States over the age of 65. Our heart is the most important muscle we have and exercising that muscle helps control or reduce any of the risk factors that can lead to heart disease. Here are a few of the most common risk factors:
- High blood pressure
- Obesity or Overweight
- Physical inactivity
Studies have also shown that people who exercise regularly are less likely to suffer a heart attack or other life-threatening cardiac event. Beginning an exercise program or regular movement can address all of the risk factors listed above, but beginning an exercise or movement routine for the active aging population can have some challenges, such as:
- Pain with movement
- Fear of falling or getting hurt
- Not knowing what to do
- Lacking confidence
The American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine both recommend combining aerobic exercise with resistance training as the way to make the greatest gains for heart health. Let’s dive into how aquatic programs, swimming, water walking, and water immersion help the active aging community embrace exercise and decrease risk factors associated with heart disease:
- Lowers blood pressure.
- Repeated workouts in the pool can lower blood pressure by reducing the hardening of the blood vessels, which is the prime factor that drives increased blood pressure as we age.
- Increases efficiency of oxygen throughout your body.
- Blood pressure automatically decreases with water immersion. Your heart can relax because the hydrostatic pressure of the water supports and increases the delivery of blood throughout your body. This delivers increased oxygen and nutrients to our brain and increases mental sharpness, clarity and memory.
- Helps manage weight.
- The buoyancy of water makes exercising pain-free, more comfortable on your joints – while eliminating the risk and fear of injuries or falls for seniors when being active. This environment can help overweight, inactive participants gain the confidence to begin and maintain a wellness plan.
- Strengthens muscles.
- Whether choosing to swim, take a class or just walk, water creates both an aerobic and resistive environment which allows you to maximize your workout.
- Decreases stress and loneliness.
- Recent studies show that social isolation and loneliness increase women’s risk for cardiovascular disease by 13-27%. Stress can also be a contributing factor. Exercising, joining a fun aquatic class or joining a pool with a walking program can be a great way to strengthen your hear and create new friendships.
Next time you see a pool or have the chance to take a dip, jump in! Exercise, especially in a pool, can be a fun, pain-free and powerful tool to help you achieve the best version of yourself at every age.