By Holly Glen Gearhart, Contributing Writer
With aging comes wisdom, with wisdom comes grace, with grace we can then strive to go content “in to that good night” …in a perfect world.
But the world is not perfect and life is even less so. More often than not, as we grow older, we will pay for years of being physically over-active or inactive and neglecting our bodies.
Too often pain keeps us on the couch, and for good reason; no guilt here.
But no matter your age or level of neglect, there is a way to begin your journey from couch to front door and back in to life and it is aquatics.
The Centers for Disease Control suggests, “Water-based exercise can benefit older adults by improving your quality of life and decreasing disability. It also improves or maintains the bone health of post-menopausal women. Exercising in water offers many physical and mental health benefits and is a good choice for people who want to be more active.”
The American Diabetes Association, the Centers for Disease Control and your doctor all point to aquatics as a good way to start exercising; water based activities is the “go-to” prescription to get back on the road to recovery.
The Monroe YMCA has classes for water-based yoga, walking, aerobics and strength-training. Each class has a certified instructor who plans the classes for age groups from children to seniors.
Nationally-renowned Silver Sneakers classes are held at the Monroe YMCA. Silver Sneakers is a national program designed to help older adults to become more physically active by offering social events.
Health clubs around the country offer the award-winning program to people who are eligible for Medicare or to group retirees. Silver Sneakers provides a fitness membership to any participating places across the country.
Health Plans, including those within the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), have cost-free memberships to the Silver Sneakers Programs.
According to the CDC, “Water-based exercise can help people with chronic diseases. For people with arthritis, it improves use of affected joints without worsening symptoms. People with rheumatoid arthritis have more health improvements after participating in hydrotherapy than with other activities. Water-based exercise also improves the use of affected joints and decreases pain from osteoarthritis.”
The CDC goes on to say that aquatic activity is good for the mood as well.
“Water-based exercise improves mental health. Swimming can improve mood in both men and women. For people with fibromyalgia, it can decrease anxiety and exercise therapy in warm water can decrease depression and improve mood.”
Aquatic aerobes can be a powerful weapon against diabetes, too.
Aerobic exercise, strength training, flexibility exercises/stretching, balance exercises, and activity throughout the day are the types of activities recommended for people with diabetes and to prevent the onslaught of diabetes. For those with pre-diabetes, early treatment can actually return blood glucose levels to the normal range.
Research shows that you can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes by 58 percent by:
- Losing 7 percent of your body weight (or 15 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds)
- Exercising moderately (such as brisk walking) 30 minutes a day, five days a week
Don’t worry … “losing even 10 to 15 pounds can make a huge difference.” according to the American Diabetes Association.
The reason aquatics work so well is due to buoyancy.
In the water, sore or atrophied muscles feel as light as air. In water, that once-perfect stride may begin to return. In water, the balance you lost – though you may not regain it - it will feel less burdensome and may improve.
Swimming pools for aquatic exercise are kept at a warmer temperature so that the body does not recoil from the shock of cold water and to help relax muscles. Water provides a natural buoyancy ratio that easily allows you to float.
Buoyancy also means a lightness of attitude, and isn’t this the very definition of aging well?
To learn more about the Silver Sneakers Programs visit online; http://www.silversneakers.com or call 1-888-423-4632 (TTY: 711) to find out if your health plan offers Silver Sneakers.
To find out more about water exercise classes at the Monroe YMCA; visit http://www.ymca-snoco.org, and choose Monroe or call 360 805 1879.
To learn more about Diabetes treatment, diagnosis and prevention, visit; http://www.diabetes.org, or call1-800-DIABETES.
Don’t forget that the YMCA also has a sliding scale for membership fees, so a fixed or low income is never a barrier to health club membership.