Baby, it’s cold outside… if this wintry weather makes you want to slump cosily by the fire and drink hot chocolate, think again.
Being active during the cold months is essential for our health, especially for older people, who may find that a lack of exercise weakens muscles, joints and bones.
The only way to combat this is to do some physical activity.
While going for a bicycle ride or a long walk on these coldest of days may not appeal, what about swimming? Exercising indoors in a warm pool is the perfect exercise regime all-year-round.
Swimming not only works on most muscle groups and the cardiovascular system, it is low impact on our joints. This is because our body weight in water is only one-tenth of what it is on land, so moving about is much easier.
Completing a few lengths in the pool is also great fun and helps to boost our immune system.
“It is all too easy to hibernate in the winter time, especially when it is very cold, but heading out to a heated swimming pool and doing a few lengths will do wonders for you, both mentally and physically,” says Irene Joyce, STA’s Aquatic Development Officer.
“As you get older, it is important to continue taking regular exercise, because it helps with improved overall health, and swimming is one of the best all-round exercises, because it will help to keep you fit and healthy.”
While any kind of exercise is good for you, swimming has particular benefits, especially for older people. These include:
- Increased muscle strength and toning
- Reduced risk of osteoporosis
- Reduced stress
- Better posture and balance
- Improved cardiovascular strength.
“If you haven’t exercised in a long time, swimming is a great way to improve fitness,” she says. “Go and see your GP first to discuss your fitness plans and build up your strength slowly. You will soon notice a difference in how you feel.”
With many local authorities offering reduced rates – or free sessions – for senior citizens, going to the swimming pool can be an inexpensive way to get fit.
Aquacise – exercising in water – is another great way to get fit in the pool, explains Irene.
“It is a fun workout that exercises every part of your body very effectively,” she says. “For anyone who has arthritis, joint problems or anything else that makes other types of exercise difficult, this is ideal. It is a very sociable activity, so people who like to exercise with friends love it.”
Ensuring the pools are at the correct temperature is very important for swimmers’ comfort. Most public pools are set at between 28°C/82.4°F and 30°C/86°F, depending on the activity taking place, to maximise comfort.
It means whatever exercise you do in the water, you should keep warm.
Go on – take the plunge this winter. What have you got to lose?
For find the details of your nearest pool visit the STA Search facility on our website.
STA is supporting This Girl Can, a national campaign developed by Sport England to inspire more women and girls to wiggle, jiggle, move and prove that judgement is a barrier that can be overcome. For further information on This Girl Can, visit their website.
- Water Safety, Health & Wellbeing