The Benefits of Aquatic Exercise and Therapy

05/11/2012

Most everyone, regardless of age or physical condition, can benefit from aquatic exercise.  Even if you don’t know how to swim! 

Just being in the water has inherent benefits. From improvements in circulatory function to amelioration of joint pain, the rewards of aquatic exercise and therapy are numerous.

Limited only by your imagination, aquatic activities can include strengthening, flexibility, aqua aerobics, Ai Chi, an aquatic version of Tai Chi, and walking or jogging.  Current channels can be used to increase or decrease effort level.  In addition, aquatic fitness activities provide diversity and novelty to your workout.

Many physicians and therapists recommend aquatic therapy as it can provide benefits not possible with other treatments and can advance individuals to a higher level of muscle fitness and mobility sooner.

Water exercise and therapy offers advantages over land-based exercise and therapy:

·        Buoyancy provided by the water allows you to move more easily with decreased stress on muscles, joints, and bones while increasing flexibility and balance.

  • Resistance of the water allows for higher workout intensities with less impact on your body.
  • The “support” your body receives makes exercising easier and less painful, allowing you to exercise longer without increased effort or joint or muscle pain.
    • Exercises performed in the water allow the heart to work more efficiently, making it a great cardiovascular workout.
    • The pressure of the water on your joints and muscles comforts your body while you exercise, leaving you feeling less fatigued.
    • Support provided by the water reduces the fear of falling.

Warm Water Therapy
Warm water therapy has even greater benefits.  Besides the comfort of the temperature, immersing in warm water raises your body temperature and relaxes your muscles.  This can benefit individuals with disabilities and conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, post polio syndrome and many others.

Participating in a warm water therapy program provides many physical benefits:

  • Decreased joint and soft tissue inflammation
  • Improved bone density
  • Improved endurance, flexibility, and range of motion
  • Improved pulmonary function
  • Increased circulation
  • Muscle relaxation and pain relief
  • Strengthened muscles

Additionally, warm water exercise can have psychosocial benefits including reduced anxiety and stress and improved mood. 

Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Sean Cook, DPT, Director of Therapy at Shalom Cares. Sean received his doctorate in 2006 from Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia. He can be reached at 303-680-5000. For more information visit Shalom Cares on the web at: www.ShalomCares.org.