With the end of summer vacation and school activities beginning, families are
looking to get back into a regular routine. Now is a great time to revitalize your
workout routine and try new fitness activities to keep you motivated into the fall
and winter months. Water exercise is a fun way for most individuals to update
their fitness regimen.
Athletes have been running and cycling outside in our great summer weather.
Sometimes, extra miles on the trail lead to new aches and pains in our joints.
Deep water running has been proven to help maintain cardiovascular endurance
without causing increased strain and impact to painful joints. Water exercise has
less reported post-workout soreness compared to similar land activities. Cross-
training in the water can provide an additional day of training without the stress
of impact on the body.
Individuals with chronic medical conditions such as osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia or
back pain often have poor tolerance to land based exercise due to impact and
stress on their joints. Inactivity can cause deconditioning and weight gain which
can lead to other health issues such as diabetes and hypertension. The buoyant
environment of water allows for increased ease of movement and better
tolerance to longer bouts of activity. Exercising in waist-deep water decreases
the force of gravity by approximately 50%. In pools with warmer water, the
higher temperature allows muscles to relax and allow greater range of motion
and freedom of movement during exercise. These properties allow individuals to
exercise to improve range of motion, improve strength, maintain fitness levels,
and even facilitate weight loss in preparation for future surgery.
The water is a great place for individuals with peripheral neuropathy, Parkinson’s
Disease, and other neurological conditions that affect balance to work on walking
patterns, strengthen core and leg muscles and improve posture. For people with
balance issues, the viscosity of water allows for increased time to recover balance
during walking and other functional activities. The resistance and current
(turbulence) of the water also assists with strengthening to improve posture and
endurance. Research has shown that water exercise focusing on gait training and
strengthening can reduce risk of falling with mobility and daily activities on land.
So when you are looking to try something new in your fitness routine, look at the
possibilities in the water. Aquatic boot camp and aquatic cardio classes can assist
with cross training and improving athletic ability. Lower intensity classes or even
water walking can be great for those with arthritis and chronic pain. Balance
classes can assist with strengthening and reducing fall risk. You don’t have to be a
swimmer to get great benefits from aquatic exercise.
Mary LaBarre, PT,DPT, ATRIC; Physical Therapist – Community Health Partners