You may have tried many kinds of exercise over the years, but none of them were right for you. Perhaps it is time to give water-based exercise a try. Exercise such as aquatic therapy and swimming offers a wide range of benefits for people of all ages and fitness levels.
In addition, people generally enjoy water-based exercise and can do more than when exercising on land. Best of all, it is a form of exercise you can continue all your life.
If you’re having back pain, recovering from surgery or injury, or just looking for a way to get more exercise without putting too much pressure on your joints, Cawley Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation’s aquatic therapy options might be just what you’re looking for.
What is Aquatic Therapy?
Aquatic therapy is physical therapy that takes place in a pool or other aquatic environment under the supervision of a trained physical therapist.
The health benefits of aquatic exercise include improved muscular endurance, strength, and reduced stress. People often report better flexibility, balance, and coordination, as well as reduced pain from everyday activities. The support of the water allows you to perform an overall body workout, utilizing the core muscles as well as the upper and lower body.
The Mayo Clinic reports that exercising while submerged in water may also increase your circulation and improve your cardiovascular health. It is especially helpful for those who find it difficult to exercise on land because of injuries or other mobility issues.
Swimming is an effective and enjoyable form of exercise. According to the CDC, it is the fourth most popular sports activity in the United States. Swimming uses almost all of the muscle groups, so it acts as a full-body workout. Because it is low impact, it helps reduce joint pain. Other important benefits include:
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved lung capacity. Swimmers use measured breathing, so their oxygen intake is consistent and lung capacity is greater.
- Improved strength
- Increased flexibility
- Improved balance. The water helps support you, so there’s less fear of falling.
- Improved posture. Because swimming strengthens your core stability, particularly in the back and shoulders, your posture gets better.
- Reduced stress
Cardiovascular Benefits of Aquatic Therapy
Swimming and aquatic therapy are excellent exercises for the heart. Aerobic exercise can reduce blood pressure and raise the level of “good” cholesterol, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease.
It also improves the arteries, strengthens the heart, and helps it pump more efficiently, which improves the blood flow throughout the body. Studies show that swimming 30 minutes a day can reduce coronary heart disease in women by 30 to 40 percent.
Benefits of Aquatic Therapy for Muscles
Water is much denser than air, so the higher resistance against the movements strengthens and tones weak muscles. Aquatic therapy and swimming use a wide variety of muscle groups in the body. Different exercises and swimming strokes exercise different muscle groups, but muscles that typically benefit include:
- Core abdominal and lower back muscles
- Deltoid and shoulder muscles
- Forearm muscles, which are often used to pull in the water
- Upper back muscles work to stabilize the shoulders
- Glutes and hamstring muscles help the body balance and move forward
Aquatic Exercise is Low Impact
Swimming is a low-impact activity, so it is easier on the weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips, and ankles than many other forms of exercise. This makes it especially beneficial when recovering from injury or surgery.
Additionally, many people with arthritis or other musculoskeletal conditions find it difficult and painful to be physically active. However, the water supports an individual’s natural buoyancy. Therefore, body weight is reduced, which means less weight bearing down on the joints and less pain. Due to the water’s resistance, it is possible to get stronger and move faster, increasing the distance and improving the cardiovascular system.
One of the most important benefits of aquatic exercise is that it is pleasant. As with any form of exercise, the more we enjoy it, the more frequently we do it and for longer periods of time. So if you want to enjoy your exercise and feel better afterward, head out to your aquatic therapy session or a nearby pool. You’ll be glad you did.
For more information on Cawley Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation’s aquatic therapy options, call 570-208-2787 or contact us online.