To most of us, the thought of staying fit while balancing the day’s activities and demands is a hefty undertaking, especially when you have ever-increasing daily aches and pains.

What if you could ease aches and pains while getting a workout in a fast and effective way that’s easy to integrate into daily routines? Would you believe that it starts with something as simple as water?

We all know water as a key ingredient in maintaining absolute prosperity with our health, but did you also know water can serve as a great alternative for cardio workouts, rehabilitation, and other forms of training?

Aquatic-based exercise is ideal for aging and elderly individuals with arthritis and other age-related maladies as well as those recovering from injury and surgery.

Here are a few of the benefits and best practices of integrating aquatic exercise and therapy into a regular fitness routine:



• Aquatic exercises can decrease aches and pain in the back, hips, and lower extremities quickly, even after only a few sessions.

• The buoyancy properties of water decrease weight bearing and pressure, which unloads joints and allows them to maintain exercises even if muscle mass is reduced and bone density isn’t as strong.


Older athletes can increase exercise activity without increasing pain due to the decrease in pressure and weight bearing.

Chest-high water results in approximately 30-35 percent weight bearing, which mimics the effect of weight training on muscle strength and weight loss without the pressure.

Additional properties of water, such as hydrostatic pressure, can increase circulation and result in decreased edema.

Always consult with your physician and listen to your body. You will know if something doesn’t feel right.


Best Practices

• Don’t be afraid to use assistance. Exercising in the water may require the use of the pool wall and some pool noodles, so it’s important your balance is maintained at a comfortable depth.

• If you ever feel like you’re struggling or need assistance while stretching or exercising, ask for help. The most important rule in the pool is that safety comes first.


Safety is always important, so know your limits. There are some restrictions when performing aquatic therapy, including but not limited to: fear of water, incontinence, and open wounds/infections.

There are also some precautions to be aware of when performing aquatic exercise. Pool temperatures over 90 degrees can increase overheating and dehydration and should therefore be avoided.


Danielle Debulgado is an ATI aquatic therapy expert from Aurora, Ill.

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