One of the advantages living in Florida is our sunny weather year round so it is not unusual to have daily access to a pool, whether at a private home, community development, or a local Y. Even if you’re in a climate with cold winter temperatures, there are gyms offering year round swimming. From an orthopedic perspective, swimming is one of the most beneficial exercises you can do, and better yet, it can be so much fun that you don’t think of it as exercise.
When prescribed as Aquatic Therapy, there are many techniques and forms of bodywork. Applications include those for spine pain, musculoskeletal discomfort, post-operative rehabilitation, and disabilities or disorders. It may be most beneficial when non-weight bearing exercises are needed or when normal range of motion is limited due to pain, inflammation, or rehabilitation.
Water has properties that provide resistance which are beneficial in exercising. Because of these properties, the muscles actually work harder when submerged in water compared to doing that same exercise on dry ground. Try to imagine running through water and how much more difficult it would be and how much more time it would take to cover the same distance as running a mile on land. Submersion into the water makes it harder to move because of the buoyancy. This resistance also helps tone muscle and improve balance.
Pool exercise can also burn calories. An average 30 minute pool exercise routine can burn off approximately 300 calories. The water also helps reduce body fatigue as it supports so much of the body weight. Pool exercises, done three or four times a week, could result in weight loss and be fun in the process!
Water is also known to have an added benefit on the body and brain. There is a theory called “blue mind” that suggests being close to, in, over, or under the water makes us happier and healthier. For this reason, yoga studios and massage spas incorporate waterfalls into their décor. The gentleness of being near or in the water sends a soothing feeling of relaxation and can lower blood pressure.
Pool therapy has become a widely accepted form of exercise and is now offered in many gym facilities, parks, and community developments. The Arthritis Foundation has even partnered with many YMCA’s across the country in a program called PACE, or People with Arthritis Can Exercise. In fact, they have an excellent website with great tips for a water walking routine. Always check with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen. http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/exercise/workouts/simple-routines/water-walking.php
At Sarasota Orthopedic Associates we have an on-site therapy pool at our Bahia Vista location as well as a team of expert physical therapists at our offices. To learn more about us, click here or call us at 941-951-2663 for an appointment.
Sources: brainline.org; SOA.md website; Wikipedia; Arthritis Foundation