5 great water aerobic exercises for seniors with joint pain

Seniors with joint pain may find diving into a new aquatic exercise routine to be the best path to feeling better.


Pain from arthritis, osteoarthritis, joint injuries, or autoimmune diseases may discourage seniors from exercising. Swimming and aquatic exercises offer many advantages over other activities. 



The benefits of pool exercises for seniors


Taking the pool plunge to get into shape offers many advantages to an exercise routine.


  • The natural buoyancy of water allows for less stress on joints and plenty of flexibility for movement.
  • Moving and stretching can be the best remedy for pain. Water offers slight resistance to movement which creates a gentle environment for exercising.
  • When motivation is low to participate in high impact exercise like jogging or group classes, a quiet dip in a pool may be just the medicine needed to find relief.
  • Water aerobics offers seniors a safe, fun time to socialize during all seasons of the year.


Helpful hints for doing water aerobics exercises

  • If new to water aerobics, start slowly to gauge your own fitness level.
  • Most exercises can be safely done in waist- or shoulder-high water in the shallow end of the pool.
  • Reserve equipment like hand weights or leg weights for more advanced training.
  • Use a floatation device like a belt if needing a better sense of security in the water.
  • Find a pool buddy! If just learning, find a seasoned buddy to act as a mentor.
  • Remember basic body posture while exercising. Stand straight to lengthen and position the spine.
  • Stop at once if you experience any unusual symptoms like dizziness, nausea, or sweating.
  • Choose the number of repetitions that match your fitness level.
  • Have fun!


Jogging or walking

Depending on your level of fitness, the pool can be a great place to jog or walk. On pavement, jogging is a high-impact sport and joints bear the brunt of the impact.


In the shallow end of the pool, start on one side and walk or lightly jog across to the other side.


Adjust your pace according to your strength, breathing, and stamina.


Leg kicks

Kicking can be done either by holding the side of the pool or using a kickboard to swim the length of a pool.

  1. Grasp either the side of the pool of a kickboard
  2. Choose a kicking method like flutter kick, scissor kick, or breaststroke kick
  3. Gently kick to start
  4. Adjust pace depending on heart rate and breathing

Jumping jacks

  1. Choose a spot where the water is chest high. Stand with arms by your side and feet together.
  2. The first action is to jump. As you do so, spread your legs apart and bring your hands above your head.
  3. Jump again to return your arms and legs to the original position.

Treading water

Treading water is a basic skill taught during lifesaving courses.


The idea is to keep the body afloat through the movement of arms and legs.


This aerobic exercise for seniors can be highly adaptable and flexible. A beginner can try in the shallow end; a more advanced senior can move to the deep end and tread water for longer times.


To tread water:

  1. Stand upright in the pool.
  2. Bend and kick your legs while at the same time paddling your arms in front of your body.
  3. When done correctly, the movements will cause the body to float.

To be safe, beginners should practice this exercise in waist-high water.


Squats and shuffles

These movements can be done individually or together. These water aerobics exercises work to increase leg strength and flexibility.


Standing in waist-deep water, simply bend knees and return to a standing position. This exercise can be done in a stationary position, or while moving.


To side shuffle, simply bend knees and take a big step to the side. Repeat across the pool.



Pain in seniors is very common, but it doesn’t have to be your new normal.

Watch Conviva’s “Bone and Joint Health” on-demand video for more information about how to prevent and treat joint discomfort.


Watch Now

Content contained on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Consult your health care provider before beginning any new fitness or dietary plan. References provided are for informational purposes only and do not constitute endorsement of any websites or other sources. Should you have any health-related questions, you should contact your health care provider.




Pool Exercises: 8 Great Ways to Get a Full Body Workout in the Water (healthline.com)


The Best Water Aerobics Exercises and Workouts | livestrong


7 Pool Exercises That Burn Fat Fast | Everyday Health



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