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Making a Splash: The Ultimate Pool Exercises for Seniors

by Jessica Hegg October 02, 2023 0 Comments

rear view senior aqua gym class

Everyone knows it’s important to stay fit, though it’s not always easy once we get older. Fatigue, joint pain, and limited mobility can all make a regular workout seem like an unattainable goal. But it doesn’t have to be, as long you know how to get your regular dose of exercise in a safe and controlled way. Pool exercises for seniors can do just that, letting you choose from a range of different exercises to build heart health, muscle, and a positive outlook.

Cardio Exercises for the Pool

Whether you’re working out in your home pool or a public one, there are plenty of options to choose from when building your workout routine. Start with a few simple ones, and then branch out to fit your ability and health needs perfectly.

1. Water Walking and Jogging

Sometimes, the simplest exercises are also the easiest. For this low-impact exercise, simply find an open area stretch of the pool where you can move around. Then walk from one side to the other or laps around the perimeter. It may sound easy, but the extra resistance from the water will help work your entire lower body.

If you want a bit more of a challenge, try jogging instead. It might take some practice to get right, but basically, lean forward a bit and try to move your legs at a faster pace. You can also use a small flotation device to help get stability.

2. Jumping Jacks

If you want a pool exercise you can do in a more confined area, jumping jacks are among the most simple. You can do them just the same as when on dry land, starting with your feet together and arms by your side and springing up with your limbs apart. You’ll find that you can jump even higher in the water, making for a fun and effective workout. It’s good for your heart as well as your hip, thigh, calf, and shoulder muscles.

Try starting with three sets of ten jumping jacks, with 30 seconds of rest in between.

3. Bicycles

This exercise requires a pool noodle to help give you a bit of extra buoyancy. Sit on the noodle like a bike, and then spin your legs as if you were pedaling. You’ll find it’s much harder than when riding a normal bike, so you’ll probably want to take it slow at first.

Start with fifteen minutes of slow-paced water cycling, and gradually increase as you get used to the routine.

4. Flutter Kicks

This one is similar to the bicycle exercise described above but doesn’t require any extra equipment. Simply position yourself near the side of the pool and float flat on your stomach. When you’re in position, begin kicking your legs, just the same as when swimming. It’s a great leg workout but also helps tone the core muscles. You can also use a kickboard and flutter kick around the pool.

This workout is a bit more strenuous than others, so start with a ten-minute session and work your way up.

5. Leg Lifts

Here’s another exercise that works just as well in the pool as it does at home. Doing it while half-submerged will make for a more gentle exercise that is easier on the joints. Start by standing in the pool so the water rises to at least waist height. Then raise your left leg to the side, as far as it can go, and return it to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg. You may want to stand near the edge of the pool for balance or try it freestanding to develop coordination.

Start with three sets of fifteen reps per leg.

6. Water Push-Ups

Unlike traditional push-ups, these ones are done vertically, making them a good alternative for older adults. Start near the edge of the pool, where you can get a firm grip. The ladder might be a good object to cling to. Place your feet firmly on the bottom of the pool, and then, while holding on, pull yourself toward the wall and allow yourself to fall back to the starting position.

Try starting this exercise with three sets of ten reps.

7. Arm Curls

Arm curls are an effective and intuitive workout option as long as you have a set of water weights. You can use them just the same as regular weights, choosing a spot in your pool where you have plenty of room and the water reaches just below your neck. Start by holding the weight ahead of you with your palms facing upward. Then curl your arms toward you until the weights nearly reach your chest, and then return to the starting position.

Choose a weight that’s comfortable for you and begin with three sets of eight reps.

8. Line Jump

Line jumps are a great option if you’re looking for a fast, simple, and effective exercise. All you have to do is start with your feet together and imagine a line on the ground immediately to your left or right. Then, jump over the line while keeping both feet together. Or, keep them apart if you want a slightly easier workout. It may sound easy, but you’ll be surprised what a good cardio workout it can be!

Try this exercise for five minutes, and then increase the time if you think you’re ready.

9. Cross-Country Skiing

If you want a workout that offers a bit more of a challenge than water walking, cross-country skiing in the pool might be a perfect option. Start with your legs shoulder-width apart and your arms as your sides in chest-high water. Then, jump upward and extend your legs, one forward and one back, while also extending your arms in the same way. Once you’ve reached this position, jump again and reverse your legs and arms.

This exercise is a bit more difficult, so try repeating the motion at a slow pace for five minutes and work your way up gradually.

10. Heel Raises

Heel raises may not require much motion, but after trying a set or two for yourself, you’ll see they’re more of a challenge than you think. Start by standing with your feet under your hips. Then, lean your body weight onto the ball of your foot and lift your heels up as high as you can. Next, gradually lower your heels back to the starting position. Try to move straight up and down rather than making a rocking motion.

Try 3 sets of ten reps each.

Water Aerobics Equipment

Many of the exercises mentioned above can be done without any extra equipment, though some of them can be enhanced with the right gear. Take a look at some of these pieces of water aerobics equipment to help take your workout to the next level.

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are a staple for any workout, whether in the pool or at home. Rather than work your muscles with heavy weights, which can cause injury if you’re not used to using them, resistance bands are lightweight and portable. They’re the perfect way to make your favorite exercises a bit more challenging.

Water Weights

Water weights work in much the same way as regular dumbbells, but instead of being pulled down by gravity, they are pulled up by buoyancy. They might take a bit of getting used to if you’re already familiar with traditional weights, but once you master them, they can provide a serious workout. Plus, they’re lightweight and easy to transport to and from the pool.

If you’re looking for a way to limber up before or after a pool workout, try this waterproof massage ball set.

Waterproof Watch/Timer

Many of the exercises above are made to be performed over a set time. Having a waterproof timer on hand will help you ensure you’re getting a consistent workout that isn’t too short or too long.

Water Aerobics Benefits for Seniors

Of course, pool exercise is a great way to stay fit, just like many other forms of physical activity. But it also have a few unique benefits that make it a perfect option for older adults.

Easy on Joints

Working out in water causes you to take each option slower and more steadily. It also helps keep your body cool and fresh throughout. Both of these benefits can help ease any joint pain you feel from exercise.

If you’re looking for other low-impact exercises, check out these chair exercises for seniors.

Reduces Muscle Strain

No matter who you are, it’s always important to take exercises at your own pace, to avoid pulling a muscle. This is especially true for older adults, who can injure themselves more easily and take longer to recover. Luckily, pool exercises carry a lower risk of muscle strain, making for a safe and more effective workout.

Supports Balance

If you’re worried about balance issues while working out, the pool is a perfect option. Your body’s natural buoyancy will help keep you upright, and even if you do fall, you won’t find yourself banging your head.

Want to improve your balance outside of the pool? One of these unique balance trainers might be the perfect option.

Perfect for Group Workouts

Not everyone has a place where friends can gather to enjoy physical fitness together, but a pool can provide just that. Exercising with friends can help keep you motivated during your workout and throughout your day.

Build the Perfect Pool Exercise Routine for You

With so many different exercises you can do in the pool, it’s easy to build a workout routine perfectly tailored to your needs. Whether you’re hitting your aquatic gym once a week, or every day, you’ll always have something new to try. If you’re just getting started with a regular workout, try one or two of these each week, and see which you like best.

Jessica Hegg
Jessica Hegg

Jessica Hegg is the content manager and at With vast product knowledge and understanding of individual needs, she aims to share valuable information on making smart buying choices, overcoming obstacles and overall improving the quality of life for others. Avid gym-rat and nutrition enthusiast, she’s interested in all things related to staying active and living healthy lifestyle.

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