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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Exercising in water

Exercising with Arthritis: Aquatic Therapy

This is a guest post by Genevieve Lawrence, representative from

If you are suffering from arthritis, you may enjoy a love/hate relationship with exercise. No doubt you have been told that exercise will help improve your situation in some of the following ways:

* Exercise will help keep you at a healthy weight and reduce pressure from your joints.
* Moderate exercise will help keep the muscles and surrounding tissues strong to improve support for your bones.
* Keeping moving helps reduce painful inflammation and protect your joints from further damage.

But when exercise is agonizing and it may take some time to see the results, it can be difficult to embark on a fitness program. Even though the potential benefits over the short and long term may be huge, the effort is difficult and painful as stiff joints slow you down. One way to make exercise a more enjoyable and effective experience is to start a water-based exercise program. Simply the pressure of the water alone can help decrease swelling and increase circulation!

Aquatic therapy provides many benefits that traditional exercises may not to an arthritic individual. Because of the low-impact environment that water creates, it is an ideal and safe place to gently exercise joints and muscles. The water supports joints, encourages free movement and also acts as a gentle resistance to help improve muscle strength. By being shoulder-high in water, you will have reduced the percentage of your body weight that is acting on your joints down to 10%!

There are many different methods for water exercise, from water aerobics to more condition-specific treatments that use a specialized rehab pool or swim spa. These exercises include range of motion exercises and a gentle cardiovascular exercise. A therapeutic swim spa or pool can be used to warm and massage stiff and aching joints and decrease swelling. You may find one of these at a gym, rehabilitation center, or may be purchased for in home use. There is even a water treadmill for those who like the motion of walking but want to drastically reduce the impact on joints.

There are some precautions and items to consider before embarking on any aquatic exercise program:

* You may need help getting in and out of a spa or pool. Take that into consideration when looking into both public and private pools for aquatic exercise. There are pools and pool equipment specifically design to make access easier. Look for these when considering where you want to exercise.

* Always consult a doctor before starting a new exercise program. If you have any other health conditions that may make an aquatic exercise program less than ideal for you, they will be able to let you know in advance.

* Check the temperature of the pool. Ideal conditions for comfortable exercise are between 83 and 88˚ F according to the Arthritis Foundation. Water that is too cold may not impart the same benefits and too hot water may cause dizziness or nausea.

Finding the right water exercises for you can also be fun! Check with your local health facilities and see what programs they offer. They may not only have the facilities, but also may have groups and classes where you can work out with others, making exercising a fun social activity. Once you find a suitable location, you will find that aquatic therapy is a relaxing and enjoyable way to relieve the pain and stress associated with arthritis.

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