The Benefits of Water Exercise

Written by Wendy Sanctuary, PTA, for the Brattleboro Reformer July 25, 2014

Sometimes without really noticing it happening, we find ourselves decreasing our exercise by changing the frequency or intensity of normal activities such as climbing the stairs, walking the dog, or hanging up laundry. When we do that, we begin, subtly, to lose muscle strength. This can be so gradual that we don't realize it until our body begins to show the weakness in a new and, usually, discouraging way. Standing up from a chair uses the leg and hip muscles, and can become harder if we start to lose muscle strength. The same goes for climbing stairs and getting up off the floor. Sometimes it is our stomach and hip muscles that become weak and we can begin to feel as though our balance isn't quite as good as it used to be. Experiencing pain when doing a previously easy everyday activity can be an indication that there is some muscle weakness creeping in.

While hot weather can make it tough to get outside and exercise in the summer, it is great for exercising in water. While in the water you not only are being cooled down but you can also use the unique properties of water to your advantage.

The buoyancy of the water helps to hold us up and support us as we move. Often times when we have a joint that is painful on land that same joint can be moved and worked without pain while in the water. The buoyancy makes us lighter so our joints don't feel the weight that they normally do. Over time if we have been strengthening the muscles around our painful joints in the water, eventually they can begin to feel better even when out of the water. This happens because we have built up enough strength for the joint to once again move normally. Another benefit of the buoyancy of the water is that it gives us some support as we walk in it. If we feel unsteady on our feet and maybe need a cane to safely get around, the water provides a great place to work on improving our balance. If we can work on our balance in a safe environment then gradually our balance improves and we become less unsteady out of the water.

Moving in water makes us have to push against its resistance as the water is slow to get out of our way. Some of the best exercises for strengthening our body can be done at the shallow end of a pool. Walking in the water is good for leg and abdominal strengthening. Get the arms swinging by your sides as you walk and the muscles in the shoulders and back will also get stronger. The faster you move against water the stronger the resistance and the more the muscles have to work.

Water also can provide some compression to our legs, calves, and ankles even if we are just walking in it. With the warmer, humid weather people will sometimes notice that they have more swelling in their legs and ankles. Working the leg muscles helps to pump this extra fluid back up towards the heart. With the added pressure of the water pushing against the leg from the outside it can make our bodies work that much more efficiently.

There are numerous exercises that can be done in the water that can strengthen our much needed, but not often worked, muscles. Whether you get in the water just to float around and cool off or to exercise and build muscles strength stay safe and most importantly have fun.

Call for an appointment
(802) 722-4023


Support our Mission

Make a tax deductible donation