How Seniors Can Safely Add Swimming to Their Summer Routine
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How Seniors Can Safely Add Swimming to Their Summer Routine

Chicago summers can be great fun. They can also be difficult to navigate when the heat and humidity become oppressive. That doesn't mean you need to stay indoors all summer. An outdoor swimming pool may be a perfect place to stay cool as long as you use plenty of sunscreens and stay in the shade when not swimming. 

Swimming can help regulate the body's core temperature when the temperature rises. It is also an ideal exercise because it is easier on joints and helps improve muscle tone and flexibility. Adding this activity to an exercise routine can be a way to meet people and enjoy the outdoors. Before incorporating it into an exercise program, be sure to check with your physician. Then, use the following steps to add the activity to your Illinois summer.

Start Slow in Swimming

For the first week, try swimming for 30 to 60 seconds and resting for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat the process 10 times. This should not involve leg movements during the first week. Beginning with week two, add kicking. Consider using a kickboard if using swimming strokes and kicking are too strenuous. Kick for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds. Repeat the process 10 times.

As the body becomes accustomed to swimming and kicking, begin to increase the amount of swim time by 15 seconds and decrease the rest time by 15 seconds. Use different swim strokes to add variety to an exercise program.

Keep swim times to two or three days a week in the beginning. Investing in a waterproof watch can help track swim/rest intervals if the swimming pool does not have a pace clock. Remember to swim at a comfortable speed rather than worrying about how fast other swimmers are going.

Take Small Steps

Avoid moving too quickly. Pulled muscles or other injuries can stop an exercise routine before it starts. A rule of thumb is to increase the swim time by 10% each week. That may seem extremely slow, but it helps minimize injuries and protects against heat-related illnesses.

Swimming is a technical activity. Having the right technique goes a long way to making swimming enjoyable. Consider taking lessons to help with swimming basics or to learn new strokes and better breathing techniques.

Remain Motivated

Staying motivated can be challenging, especially if progress seems slow. Finding a partner or joining a group in the Evanston area can add a social element to an exercise program. Sharing the swimming experience can keep motivation high.

Mix It Up

Swimming is not the only water activity for people over the age of 65 or anyone for that matter. Walking through water can give the body a workout because of the resistance water provides. Water aerobics is another way to enjoy a pool, stay cool, and socialize.

Stay Safe

Enjoying a summer full of swimming means keeping safety in mind. Swimming in Lake Michigan may not be the best option if there are no lifeguards on the beach. Strong undertows and rough waters can make for hazardous conditions. Outdoor pools may be safer, depending on how crowded the pool is and how many lifeguards are present. Whether it's near the lake or in a pool, sunscreen, hydration, and rest periods in the shade are critical to a healthy experience. 

Consider an indoor pool at a recreational center or private gym in Cook County. They are an excellent choice if a refresher swim class is needed. Many group classes are offered which can improve safety and add social benefits as well. With Senior Helpers® individuals over the age of 65 can receive specialized care or companion services to keep them safe while living at home.