Water has extra benefits for people with arthritis or injuries of
the spine or joints. But water exercises are not just for people
with arthritis. Healthy people also enjoy water exercises. Water's
soothing properties augment the stress relief you get from the water
The feeling of weightlessness experienced when floating on water
has a very relaxing effect on the mind and body. Maybe we find
comfort being submerged in water because we all started out floating
around in the womb.
The buoyancy of the water protects weight-bearing joints from further
injury by supporting the majority of the body weight. (90% if underwater
up to your neck, about 50% if in waist-high water). If you suffer
from any inflammation of the joints, the pressure that water exerts
on the body prevents the injured body part from swelling further.
The resistant properties of water help strengthen muscles without
adding injury to the joints. Your muscles work harder to perform
movements such as walking, marching, or other water exercises. The
harder you work your large muscles, the harder your heart and lungs
have to work to supply them with oxygen and more calories are burned.
So you can get an excellent stress-busting aerobic workout with
no or minimal stress to the weight bearing joints.
*See Aerobic Exercise page
for warming up, cooling down, maximum heart rate, avoiding dehydration,
etc. - topics that apply to water aerobics as well as land aerobics.
Many recreation centers and public swimming pools offer water exercises
classes. You don't need to know how to swim, as water exercises
are performs in waist-chest deep water. Find out what the temperature
of the water will be during the class. The water temperature of
the swimming pool is typically at a warmer temperature for water
exercise classes geared towards those with arthritis or other physical
limitations. The warmer temperature is also very soothing.