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Top 10 Low-Impact Water Workouts for Seniors

2 Seniors Working Out in the Pool

Ever wondered how to make your retirement years as vibrant and fulfilling as possible?

The answer might be simpler than you think: staying active. Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of diseases like diabetes and cancer, improve heart and lung health, enhance mobility, and uplift mood. However, despite these benefits, over 25% of older Americans aren’t getting enough exercise.

As you step into retirement, focusing on your health becomes paramount.

Seniors aged 65 and above should aim for approximately 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week, as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One great option for achieving your fitness goals through low-impact water workouts, which prioritize self-care while minimizing strain on your body.

So, let’s dive in and discover the rewarding and enjoyable aspects of staying active in the water.

The Benefits of Low-Impact Water Workouts for Seniors

Water workouts provide a unique avenue for seniors to maintain their fitness levels without putting undue stress on their bodies.

Here are some compelling advantages of embracing low-impact exercises in the water:

Gentle on Joints: Water’s buoyancy reduces the impact on joints, making it an ideal environment for seniors with arthritis or other joint-related concerns.

Full-Body Conditioning: Water’s natural resistance engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, delivering a well-rounded workout that strengthens your core, upper body, lower body, and everything in between.

Enhanced Cardiovascular Health: Water workouts elevate your heart rate without subjecting your cardiovascular system to the pounding that comes with high-impact activities, helping to improve heart health in a safe and gentle way.

Improved Balance and Flexibility: The water’s supportive environment challenges your balance and flexibility, promoting better stability and reducing the risk of falls, a significant concern for most older individuals.

Reduced Muscle Soreness: Water’s buoyancy provides a cushioning effect, lowering the risk of muscle soreness while enabling practical resistance training.

Joint Lubrication: Moving through water gently massages your joints, promoting synovial fluid circulation and potentially alleviating stiffness.

Stress Relief: Being in the water has a calming effect, reducing stress and anxiety while enhancing your overall mood.

Social Interaction: Participating in water classes or workouts often involves group settings, providing opportunities for social engagement and connections with fellow retirees.

Now that we’ve discussed the many benefits of low-impact water workouts, let’s dive into some of the best water exercises for you to try out!

1. Walking In Water

When it comes to effective exercise, sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. Walking in water is a fantastic entry point into aquatic fitness. Not only does it get your heart rate up, but it also provides a gentle resistance that encourages muscle engagement throughout your body.

Exercise Breakdown:

  1. Stand upright, ensuring the water level is around waist or chest height.
  2. Slightly lean forward, maintaining a comfortable posture.
  3. Bend your knees slightly, allowing your feet to maintain contact with the pool floor.
  4. Begin walking forward, lifting your feet, and swinging your arms as you would during a regular walk.
  5. Focus on keeping a steady pace and engaging your core muscles.
  6. If you’re new to water exercises, start with shorter durations and gradually increase as your comfort and stamina grow.

2. Water Jogging

Ready to pick up the pace? Water jogging offers a more dynamic challenge while maintaining the joint-friendly characteristics of aquatic workouts. The water’s buoyancy reduces impact, making it an excellent option for seniors seeking a cardiovascular boost without the strain and jostling of jogging on land.

Exercise Breakdown:

  1. Stand upright in the water, ensuring it’s deep enough to allow comfortable movement.
  2. Bring your right leg forward, maintaining a slightly bent knee and a shoulder-width foot stance.
  3. Alternate your legs, mimicking a jogging motion while feeling the water’s resistance.
  4. Aim for 30-second intervals or more, adjusting the intensity to your comfort level.
  5. Focus on maintaining a controlled pace and rhythm to maximize the benefits of the exercise but take breaks as needed.

3. Butt Kickers

For knee, ankle, and hip health, incorporate some Butt Kickers into your routine. This exercise engages your lower body muscles and adds a touch of fun and variety to your water workout, and who doesn’t love fun workouts?

Exercise Breakdown:

  1. Stand with your hands on your hips and your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Lift your right foot directly behind you, as if gently kicking your posterior.
  3. Lower your right foot to the pool floor, then repeat the motion with your left foot.
  4. If comfortable, increase the pace while alternating legs, maintaining your balance.
  5. To challenge yourself further, add a small hop as you kick each foot back.

4. Flutter Kicks

Flutter kicks offer a versatile way to enhance lower body strength and engage your core muscles. This exercise can be adapted to various fitness levels, making it suitable for seniors looking to build muscle endurance and coordination.

Exercise Breakdown:

  1. Hold onto one side of the pool or a kickboard for support.
  2. Flatten your body in the water, keeping your legs straight and your feet together (think: Superman flying pose.)
  3. Begin the flutter kicks by moving your legs up and down in a controlled, alternating fashion.
  4. Focus on engaging your core muscles to maintain stability while kicking.
  5. Over time, you can progress by moving away from the wall or kickboard, transitioning to a full-body flutter kick.
  6. Breathe steadily and maintain a consistent rhythm throughout the exercise.

5. Leg Curls

Leg curls are a great way to target your hamstrings and calves specifically. As you perform this exercise, you’ll feel your muscles engage as you lift and lower your legs in the water.

Exercise Breakdown:

  1. Begin by standing with your feet together in the water.
  2. Extend your arms to the sides to help with balance, and hold onto the pool’s edge if necessary.
  3. Bend your right knee and bring your heel toward your buttock, engaging your hamstrings.
  4. Slowly lower your right leg back down, then repeat the movement with your left leg.
  5. Continue alternating between legs for about 20 repetitions.
  6. Maintain a controlled pace to ensure proper muscle engagement throughout the exercise.

6. Jumping Jacks

Bringing the classic jumping jacks to the water adds an exciting twist to your aquatic routine. This low-impact aerobic exercise provides an effective cardiovascular workout while engaging various muscle groups in a safe, low-impact way.

Exercise Breakdown:

  1. Stand with your feet together in the water, arms positioned at your sides.
  2. Begin by jumping (or stepping for a gentler option) to separate your feet, simultaneously raising your arms overhead.
  3. Jump (or step) back to bring your feet together and lower your arms back to your sides.
  4. Repeat this sequence 8-10 times, or as many times as you comfortably can.
  5. Maintain a consistent rhythm and enjoy the buoyant support of the water as you move.

7. Chest Fly

While water workouts often focus on the lower body, the chest fly introduces an upper-body element to your routine. Strengthen your chest, shoulders, and core with this effective exercise.

Exercise Breakdown:

  1. Position yourself in water that is deep enough to submerge your chest, arms, and shoulders fully.
  2. Stand with your feet slightly staggered, one foot in front of the other, to maintain balance.
  3. Extend both arms to the sides of your body with your elbows straight and your palms facing forward.
  4. Gradually bring your arms forward, crossing them in front of your body while keeping your elbows slightly bent.
  5. Reverse the motion by moving your arms outward and returning to the starting position.
  6. Perform each movement controlled, focusing on engaging your chest and shoulder muscles.

8. Wall Pushups

Wall pushups provide a fantastic full-body workout with the added benefit of water resistance. This exercise is an excellent alternative to traditional floor pushups and can be tailored to your fitness level and preferences.

Exercise Breakdown:

  1. Stand in the pool with your arms extended straight in front of you, holding onto the pool’s edge.
  2. Place your feet on the pool floor and slightly bend your elbows.
  3. Lean toward the pool wall, allowing your body to move forward while keeping your feet planted.
  4. Push against the pool wall by straightening your arms, engaging your chest, shoulders, and triceps.
  5. Gradually bend your elbows to return to the starting position, maintaining control over your movements.
  6. Focus on maintaining proper form and breathing rhythmically throughout the exercise.
  7. Adjust the intensity by varying the angle of your body and the distance from the wall.

9. Pikes

Pikes provide a more advanced water exercise that targets core strength, stability, and arm muscles. This may not be accessible to everyone, but if you feel like you can attempt this exercise, take it at a gradual pace.

Exercise Breakdown:

  1. Stand in the water at neck height, allowing your body to be partially submerged.
  2. Bring your knees toward your chest and lean backward, extending your legs in front of you.
  3. Simultaneously lift your upper body, creating a “V” shape with your body.
  4. Engage your core muscles to maintain balance and stability in the pike position.
  5. Focus on keeping your buttocks pointed downward toward the pool’s bottom.
  6. Hold this position for as long as you can while maintaining proper form.
  7. As you become more comfortable with the exercise, strive to increase the duration of your hold.

10. Arm Raises

Arm raises provide an effective way to target your upper body muscles while benefiting from water resistance. Whether you use water weights or not, this exercise is an excellent addition to your water workout routine.

Exercise Breakdown:

  1. Stand in the water with the water level at shoulder height.
  2. Hold dumbbells or water weights at your sides, with your palms facing your body.
  3. Begin the exercise by raising both arms in front of you until they are at shoulder height.
  4. Slowly lower your arms back to the starting position, maintaining control over the movement.
  5. Focus on engaging your shoulders, biceps, and triceps throughout the exercise.
  6. Perform one to three sets of ten repetitions each, adjusting the weight and intensity as needed.
  7. Maintain a stable stance and proper posture as you complete the repetitions.


And there you have it—a refreshing dive into the world of low-impact water workouts tailored for the golden years. From simple walks in water to invigorating arm raises and core-stabilizing pikes, these exercises offer a gentle yet effective way to stay active and thriving. So why not make a splash in the pool of wellness?

As you try out these aquatic moves, consider the Atlantic Shores Community. In this haven, a fully equipped fitness center and an inviting pool await your arrival. Don’t just dip your toes in; jump in and join a community that prioritizes your health and well-being. Let every stroke remind you that staying active during retirement is a journey best enjoyed with friends, water, and a lot of fun.

*Please note that before starting any new exercise routine, it’s crucial to have a conversation with your doctor to ensure it is safe and accessible for you.