Water workouts are making a huge splash these days for many of it’s exercise benefits one of which research shows that it is making great strides for those affected with arthritis.
“We are also seeing a growth in both ends of the spectrum of aquatic workouts, from high-intensity exercises like kickboxing and circuit training to mind/body workouts like ai chi, which combines tai chi and shiatsu massage. We’re also starting to see a lot of sport-specific training and one-on-one personal training.” says Julie See, president of the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA) in Nokomis, Fla.
For people with arthritis, recent research has shown that water exercise can be a safe and effective exercise option. One study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation found women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who did water-based exercises three times a week for sixteen weeks saw significant improvements in disease activity, pain, and functional capacity compared to those who did land-based exercises. And in a recent Cochrane Review of 13 trials that included 1,190 patients with knee or hip osteoarthritis (OA), researchers found aquatic exercise may help improve pain and function.
Here’s Why Water Workouts Are Good for Your Joints
Water’s buoyancy accommodates both the fit and unfit. Think of the pool as “nature’s body weight support system.” Water cushions stiff and painful joints or fragile bones that might be injured by the impact of land exercises. According to experts at the American Physical Therapy Association water can unload up to almost 90% of your body weight when immersed to the neck; immersed to the waist, your body bears just 50% of its weight and immersed to the chest, its 25% – 35%. That buoyancy makes moving in the water easier on the joints. This allows you to perform movements with an arthritic joint that would be painful on land, which then helps improve strength and flexibility in that joint. For example, it may be tough to perform a squat on land with knee OA, but in the water, the squat is more doable. In addition, says See, the lower gravity promotes the return of blood to the heart from the extremities. This benefits persons with high blood pressure, hypertension and other vascular diseases.
Water also provides at least 12 times greater resistance than air, and in every direction. “No matter which way you move, it challenges you,” says Katz. Water Exercise works your whole body in multiple directions and promotes smooth movements (instead of quick, jerky motions), says Dr. Mulcahy. That resistance to your movements not only helps strengthen muscles, but also burns more calories to help you lose weight faster. The faster you move, the higher the resistance. It allows you to work at a higher level that you may not tolerate on land. This, in turn, helps improve mobility and strengthen cardiovascular endurance. “Patients with chronic joint conditions often say they feel free from their disability when in the water,” she adds.
We all loved the water as kids, why not enjoy it just as much as an adult. There is nothing but benefits to jumping back in and getting your feet wet. Whether you are looking for a high-intensity workout or something to just “work the kinks out”, there is something for everyone. American Family Fitness provides a plethora of options; come check us out.
SOURCES: Marc C. Levesque, MD, PhD, WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature Review. Jane Katz, EdD, associate professor of health and physical education, City College of New York, New York; author, Aquafit: Water Workouts for Total Fitness and Swimming for Total Fitness. Julie See, president, Aquatic Exercise Association, Nokomis, Fla. Leanna Skarnulis, author, Water exercise can be beneficial to many people –young and old. Dr. J. Mulcahy, PT, DPT, Clinical Program Manager, Physera.