Quick question: Did you know that every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall? And every 29 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall-related injury?
But while it’s not possible to prevent all falls, improving balance and coordination through exercise can help.
Exercises to improve walking, balance, flexibility, and strength have been shown to reduce the risk of falling by 14% to 37%.
Taking the sessions to the water, such as working out in a swim spa by Master Spas, can be even more beneficial for improving balance and reducing the risks of falls.
Older Adults and the Risk of Falling
Muscular imbalance and weakness are significant factors when calculating a person’s fall risk.
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to some level of muscle imbalance, and the imbalance increases with age.
Older people who find themselves sitting for long periods of time might experience tight and weak muscles in the muscles of the neck, torso, hips, knees, and ankles. This imbalance of the muscles causes changes in their posture. An older person’s head might trend forward and his shoulders are rounded.
And it’s this posture, along with acrouched and shuffled walking pattern, that puts a person at a greater risk for falling.
Many people, who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling. This fear may cause them to limit their activities, which leads to further reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness.
Fact: People who are 75 and older are four to five times more likely to be admitted to a long-term care facility for a year or longer than someone between the ages of 65 and 74.
Benefits of Water Exercise
Water is 500 times to 800 times more supportive than air. But it also has a natural resistance that can be up to 15 times greater than air. Someone who exercises in water will enjoy a safe and effective workout without the stress of gravity.
Water is three-dimensional, offering resistance in every direction that your move.
The resistance of water slows down movements and offers constant resistance so the person exercising can continue strengthening muscles.
Water’s resistance helps improve coordination and confidence so normal walking patterns can be strengthened in a safe and efficient environment.
The SoftTread flooring system, which is available for swim spas made by Master Spas, offers traction when exercising in the water. It allows exercisers to train in the water without the fear of falling.
How to Walk in Water
The good thing about deep water walking is that you already know how to do it. After all, you are going to walk in the water the same way you walk on the ground.
However, posture and a tight core are key.
Here are some posture cues to keep in mind when you are walking against the swim spa current:
- Avoid walking on your tiptoes
- Stand tall, with your chest up and shoulders back
- Arms should be bent slightly at your sides
- Pull your belly button into your spine to keep the abdominals engaged
Source: Arthritis Foundation
Beginner Balance Exercises
Water Walking — Forward
Keep a good upright posture and your core tight. Perform opposite arm and leg motions. Be sure to keep step lengths equal.
Water Walking — Sideways
Keep a good upright posture with core tight. Side step opening and closing arms and legs at same time. Keep step length a little larger than shoulder width.
Water Walking — Backwards
Keep a good upright posture with core tight. Perform opposite arm and leg motions. Extend leg behind you as step. Do not lean back.
High Knee March Walk
Keep a good upright posture with core tight. Perform slow high knee marching as traveling forward. Perform opposite arm and leg motions. Try to balance on one leg for 3-5 seconds.
All of these exercises can be made more challenging with increasing the speed of the movements as well as incorporating the current system in your swim spa. Just remember not to sacrifice your posture for increased resistance.