Benefits of exercising in water
Safe, low impact exercise
Low impact Fitness
Land-based exercise, including aerobics, is performed by people of all ages. But along with the benefits of aerobic activity comes the high impact stress on muscles and joints, resulting in muscle soreness, stress fractures and injury – all of which may contribute to reduced activity and fitness. Deep-water running & aerobics opens up a new opportunity for people of all ages, and varying levels of fitness, the forgiving water environment is effective and enjoyable.
The upward thrust exerted by water on a body, which acts in the opposite direction of the force of gravity. Water’s buoyancy virtually eliminates the effects of gravity – supporting 90 percent of the body’s weight for reduced impact and greater flexibility. For example, a 140 lbs (63kg) person weighs only 14 lbs (6 kg) in the water. Water acts as a cushion for the body’s weight-bearing joints, reducing stress on muscles, tendons and ligaments. As a result, aquatic workouts are low impact and can greatly reduce the injury and strain common to most land-based exercises.
Due to viscosity, drag forces and frontal resistance, water provides a resistance which is proportional to the effort exerted against it. Resistance in water ranges between 4 and 42 times greater than in air – depending on the speed of movement. This makes water a natural and instantly-adjustable weight-training machine. Unlike most land-based exercise, water provides resistance to the movement in all directions, which allows all of these directions be used in the strengthening process. Water’s resistance can be increased with speed and/or surface area, and the resistance is proportional to the effort required to move against it. With the addition of water fitness equipment, such as buoyancy belt, webbed gloves, floats and foot-ware, resistance is increased to strengthen and tone muscles.
H2O Heart Rate
The unique properties of water enable your heart to work more efficiently. The hydrostatic pressure of water pushes equally on all body surfaces and helps the heart circulate blood by aiding venous return (blood flow back to the heart). This assistance to the heart accounts for lower blood-pressure and heart rates, during deep-water exercise – versus similar exertions on land. Consequently, your heart rate is an estimated 10-15 beats lower per minute during suspended water exercise than for the same effort applied on land.
Being able to promptly return to exercise following injury or an operation is invaluable and beneficial to a speedier recovery. Water enables the return to exercise quicker than on land. A combination of buoyancy and treadmill motion allows individuals to walk or run at a balanced and comfortable level – taking strain & stress off load bearing joints whilst benefiting from the aerobic activity. Hydrostatic pressure, resistance and water temperature all contribute to building up muscle and strength in a safe environment. The treadmill speed range is up to 15kph (9.3mph) and can be controlled from within or out of the pool. The treadmill may also be operated dry.
Recent scientific study at the Texas A&M Research Laboratory determined that aquatic exercise had significant benefits for adults who were obese or overweight. View the full report in our news article section!
- Water also has greater resistance than air, which means walking in water requires more effort and ultimately burns more calories than walking on land.
- Participants lost a higher body fat percentage using underwater treadmill compared to land based treadmill
- Privacy of the water: if you hate the idea of jumping around a room full of people in tight gym clothes, exercising under water is a great alternative. 90% of participants preferred aquatic exercise compared to traditional land based exercise
Water is an excellent base for exercise, providing an anti-stress environment for movement. For initial therapy, gentle water exercises use the water's resistance to build muscle strength and flexibility.
Water exercise can be performed more easily by people who find lifting weights, or even weight bearing exercise, difficult or painful on dry land. Water also provides buoyancy and support for the body.
When in shoulder deep water, a person only has to support 10% of actual body weight. Exercising in the pool allows greater range of motion without joint pain, or joint re-injury.
The warmer water of the therapy pool induces vasodilation, which draws blood into the target tissues. The increased blood flow delivers oxygen and nutrients to the tissues while removing cell wastes. This helps promote faster healing of injured tissues. The warmth also decreases muscle spasm, relaxes tense muscles, relieves pain, and reduces swelling.
Water has unique properties that make performing therapy activities either easier or more challenging, depending on the need. These properties include:
- Buoyancy (assistive, resistive, supportive) - reduces the majority of body weight on painful, injured or surgically repaired tissues, joints, and bones. This allows the patient to regain increased range of motion without the pain associated with full weight bearing. It also allows starting rehabilitation much sooner after injury or surgery. In shoulder deep water, body weight is effectively reduced by as much as 90%.
- Hydrostatic pressure - mild water pressure helps reduce localized edema following tissue injury. Supporting the body, water pressure also helps joint stability and reduces risk of injury from falls.
- Resistance - varies by the force (velocity) of motion. Increased force against water produces more resistance, which increases muscle effort, thereby increasing muscle strength and tone. Initial rehabilitation involves light resistance, progressively increasing as muscles strengthen. Resistance can be gravity assisted or resisted, buoyancy assisted or resisted.
Sport and Fitness
The main advantage of exercising in water is that it offers resistance in all directions, compared to land exercises where you work only against gravity. Because of the cushioning effect that water provides, this form of exercise is particularly beneficial to anyone at risk from bodily stress, including the elderly, overweight, or those recovering from soft tissue injury.
Maintain Fitness Level During Injury
Increased aerobic endurance
- Greater flexibility
- Increased muscle tone
- High calorie burning during and after a workout.
- Renews your energy level as it releases your stress and tension.
- Exercising in water requires you to support only 50% of your body weight, making exercises easier to perform.
- You don’t need any special equipment, although there is a variety of equipment available for increasing variety, fitness and helping with floatation if required.
- Water’s buoyancy lowers the risk of stress-related injuries that some land exercises have
- The water’s resistance against your movements results in a higher workout intensity compared to land exercises.
- A massaging effect is created when your muscles are surrounded by water.
- Available all year round. Ie not restricted by outside temperatures.
Arthritis is a general term describing over 100 medical conditions that cause pain, stiffness and inflammation in joints. Regular gentle exercise is one of the most effective treatments for arthritis, improving flexibility of joints, muscle strength, general health and fitness.
Water exercise is one of the most comfortable and effective ways that a person with arthritis can exercise because the joints and muscles can be exercised while supported in the water. Activities such as stretching or walking through water can exercise the joints without putting them under strain.
Our units are all heated and temperatures can be easily adjusted between patience adding to the benefits and comfort.
The benefits of exercising in water
- Some of the benefits of water exercise include:
- Increased muscle strength, posture and balance
- Enhanced sense of wellbeing, mood and sleep quality
- Greater mobility and flexibility of joints
- Improved endurance and fitness
- Eases stiff joints and relaxes sore muscles
- Reduced pain and fatigue (tiredness).
Water Rehabilitation Excercises
Water rehabilitation exercise allow you to exercise and rehabilitate yourself without the jolting and sometimes painful experience of exercising on dry land. The buoyancy of water allows you to perform exercise without an significant impact on your body, according to The Stretching Institute. Water rehabilitation exercises allow you to maintain you fitness levels and recover from your injury. However, always consult your doctor before beginning water rehabilitation exercises.
Walking in water that is chest high will help you to maintain your fitness levels as well as heal an injury. Water walking can be used for spine and lower extremity injuries as well as arthritis. Walking forward and backwards can help improve your condition without stressing your joints. For an added challenge, use water weights or swing your arms while you walk. Walk in water for 20 to 30 minutes at a time.
Shoulder Flexion and Abduction
Performing arm reaches while in water can help with the range of motion in your shoulders. Sit on the bottom step to a pool or stand so that water is just above your shoulder level. For flexion, raise your arms straight up out of the pool as high as you possibly can. Slowly lower your arms back into the water and repeat. Complete one set of 10 repetitions. For abduction -- moving your arms away from the midpoint of your body -- position your arms at your sides. Slowly raise your arms with your palms down away from your body. Raise your arms to your shoulder level. Slowly lower your arms and repeat. Complete one set of 10 repetitions.
This exercise can help to strengthen the muscles in your legs, hips and lower back. Perform this exercise while holding on to the side of a pool. For your right leg, stand with your left side facing the pool wall. Use your left hand to hold on to the side of the pool. Your knees should be slightly bent. Slowly swing your right leg out to the side. Hold it there for a few seconds. Lower your leg and repeat. Complete one set of 10 repetitions. Relax and repeat with your left leg.
The exercise stretches your shoulder and back muscles. Make your way to water that is approximately chest deep. Hold on to the side of the pool with both hands. Your feet should be planted firmly on the bottom of the pool. Slowly push your feet away from the bottom of the pool. Your entire body will now be floating on the top of the water. Extend your arms so that your elbows are straight. Your legs should be extended as well. At this point, you should resemble superman. Hold this pose for 10 to 20 seconds. Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position. Repeat one set of five repetitions of this exercise.
- The Stretching Institute: Aerobic Water Exercise and Aquatic Therapy
- University of Washington Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine: Water Exercises
- Spine-Health: Water Rehabiliation Exercises
*Page is an abstract from Live Strong Magazine article “Water strength and Rehabilitation Exercises”