Tuesday, February 14, 2017 | 8:06 pm
A new study suggests that the only type of exercise that lowers older adults’ risk of falls is swimming. Researchers in Australia looked at about 1,700 men ages 70 and older, and compared the types of exercise the men did with their likelihood of experiencing a fall over a four-year period.
There were nearly 2,700 falls during the study. Men in the study who swam were 33 percent less likely to fall compared with all men in the study. In contrast, the men who did other forms of exercise — including golfing, doing calisthenics, working out on treadmills or stationary bikes, or playing lawn bowling games (similar to Bocce ball) — were no less likely to fall, the researchers found.
Unlike land-based sports, swimmers are required to create their own base of support and at the same time, to produce a coordinated movement of both upper and lower extremities. The researchers also found that the swimmers did better on a test of “postural sway,” compared with the average of all men in the study. In this test of standing balance, a person is asked to stand as still as possible for 30 seconds, and researchers measure how much his or her body moves, at the waist level, from the center position.
Swimming also enhances aerobic capacity. An aerobic activity is one that uses the same large muscle group for at least 15 to 20 minutes. While performing this activity, you need to maintain 60% to 80% of your maximum heart rate. Swimming doesn’t activate just one large muscle group; it activates all the large muscles groups in your body. For an aerobic swimming workout, you need to swim a longer duration at a fairly low intensity.
Swimming develops strong and stable core muscles, which are necessary for good balance control — a major protective factor against falls. Seniors should engage in swimming as often as they can – Waterworks Aquatics is a great place to start – they have a wide range of lessons for people every age.
Waterworks Aquatics is located at 2290 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena. Call (626) 8361200 or you can visit their website for more information http://waterworksswim.com/.