Choosing Fitness Activities for a Lifetime

Monday, March 19, 2018

Beth_KennerheadThere are very few activities that you can enjoy as a child, that can keep you fit and active as you age. Water sports and activities have minimal impact on joints and allow all fitness levels and ages to be active throughout life. The Y can offer a unique experience in this aspect. The opportunities we have available in the water, span all ages, abilities and interest levels.

When I was pregnant, and nearing the end of my “waddling” time, many of my usual fitness activities were no longer an option. I tried a deep water fitness class and became hooked. Because I could adjust the workout to still feel like I was using my muscles, but with absolutely no impact, my pregnant joints were thanking me. As each of my children became old enough, I made it a priority to make sure they were safe in and around water due to the fact that we live in an area with so much readily available open water. I started attending parent and child classes with my children to get them comfortable in the water.  As they grew and progressed through the swim levels, the practical application became more apparent. My family has long enjoyed sailing, as a time to have fun together and spend some time outside. One of my best summers was when we finally got my youngest to the point in her swimming abilities, that I didn’t feel the need to tether myself to her each time we went on the boat! It was freeing for myself and her – literally.

I have laid the groundwork for my family to enjoy a lifetime of water activities. They have already sampled swim and diving lessons. I will continue to expose them to other options as they grow. Perhaps I will enroll them in our seasonal kayaking class next. Really, though, I want them to find something that will keep them moving and that they enjoy. My hope is that by exposing them to activities in the water, they will have many long years to benefit. I was a gymnast for all my youth (definitely not a life sport), and sometimes wish I would have gotten hooked on a sport that had more longevity in my life. Some of the fittest athletes are swimmers, and whether you swim laps to train for a competition, or simply as a great full body workout, there really is no comparison. The workout you can achieve in just 30 minutes of swimming can equal twice that of a land based exercise program without any wear and tear on your joints. Likewise, simple things like water walking have great benefits as you use the water’s resistance to work on balance and muscle tone.

I hold my 93-year-old grandmother as proof positive of what being active in the water can do for you. She visits the Y 4 times a week and takes water classes. They keep her moving, independent and socially connected. She still lives in her own home (although she is rarely there), drives for Meals on Wheels, and is active in her church. The low impact of the water has kept her limber, strong, and helped her recover after knee surgery.

No matter where you are in your life path, water fitness can be a part of it. I challenge each of you to try something new in the water. You may be surprised at what you discover. The Y truly has something for everyone in this area, and I would love nothing more than to help you connect with your next new passion.

Beth Kennerhed Greater Green Bay YMCA
Broadview Center Executive