Water is not only good for our inside, but the outside as well. The benefits that water therapy and water exercise can provide to the body are many. Let’s dive in and find out just how beneficial it can be!
Whether warm or cool, water therapy can benefit one’s body in many ways. Older adults can benefit from warm water temperatures, ideally 88 degrees or above, which help to keep a regular body temperature. This prevents joints and muscles from stiffening or locking up when first entering the pool or walking at a slower pace in an aerobics class.
Terms such as buoyancy, resistance and hydrostatic pressure are all common when discussing water therapy. These factors all work together during water exercises, ultimately increasing stamina.
The buoyancy of water helps to increase joint flexibility. Reduced effects of gravity while in the water lead to reduction of joint impact, allowing for an increased range of motion.
Water is 600-700 times more resistant than air. Surprisingly, walking in water requires more effort and burns more calories than walking on land; but at the same time, it doesn’t feel as though you put in a lot of effort in performing the exercise. This is due to feeling lighter in water, which provides a comfortable resistance to increase movements.
Hydrostatic pressure increases in proportion to depth measured from the surface because of the increasing weight of the fluid exerting downward force from above. This correlates to free movement in the water, meaning that a person’s blood flow can increase in deep water. Pressure on joints and muscles is improved depending on how deep into the water. Lower extremities benefit more than the upper body due to the depth of the surface measured. In warmer water, bodies can have a 250% increase in blood flow due to hydrostatic pressure. With the help of hydrostatic pressure, many people benefit from reduced swelling and faster healing of injuries as the blood flow is increased.
One way to picture the relationship between these three terms is to imagine doing a jumping jack in water and on land. In the water, more resistance is on your body, but the help of buoyancy keeps joints free. On land, you will feel your heart rate increase and will fatigue quickly. With the heart able to work harder and more efficiently in the water due to hydrostatic pressure, you will burn more calories and benefit more by performing a jumping jack in water than on land.
Increased muscle strength, less impact on joints and improved cardiovascular performance are a few main benefits of exercising in water. Individuals with diagnoses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, replacements or injuries can find great gains in their health by using water therapy.