For many people, especially older individuals, the body can take a beating while training on land. The constant repetition of running on pavement, for example, can wreak havoc on knees and joints. And now that the weather is colder, it often takes longer for the body to warm up, meaning people are more susceptible to injury.
The beauty of an aquatic workout is that it reduces stress on the body while allowing you to exercise in an environment that is purposefully warmed to between 92 and 96 degrees. For the elderly and those who have been injured, this can be liberating, allowing them to perform physical therapy and exercise they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
In Denver, the National Jewish Health Aquatic Therapy Program features both one-on-one physical therapy, as well as group classes. Individual therapy is available for both children and adults with orthopedic and neurologic disabilities. The aquatic classes — Water Works Back Class, Arthritis Foundation/YMCA Aquatic Plus Program and AquaCise Class — are available to anyone at different times during the day.
So, what sorts of benefits come from a watery “workout room?”
- Improved muscle strength and tone
- Increased cardiovascular function
- Reduced stress
- Decreased swelling
- Increased circulation
- Increased strength and endurance
- Increased range of motion and flexibility
- Increased balance and coordination
These benefits stem from some significant differences over land-based therapies. Buoyancy is a big one; this provides support through decreased gravitational forces, meaning weak limbs are able to bear more weight. People can move more easily with less stress on joints, muscles and bones. Heated pools allow for relaxed muscles and improved range of motion. Then there’s the hydrostatic pressure, which helps the body circulate blood from the legs to the heart, often reducing swelling in the feet and ankles. And don’t forget multi-directional resistance, which improves balance and strength in all muscle directions.
So next time you’re feeling a little dried out and rickety, head to the pool. You just might be surprised what health benefits bubble to the surface.