Exercise helps arthritis sufferers with mobility and aqua exercise in particular is beneficial as it means little or no impact on the joints, offering relief from pain that would be associated with exercising on dry land. Health and fitness expert Shirley Archer says there are both physical and mental and emotional benefits to using aquatic exercise for arthritis.
- Decrease pain
- Increase mobility
- Increase strength
- Increase coordination
- Improve endurance
Mental and emotional:
- Increase feelings of well-being
- Decrease depression
- Increase socialisation
- Increase fun and pleasure
Aquatic exercise principles for people with arthritis:
- Try to exercise daily.
- Exercise in warm water pools with temperatures between 28-31°C.
- Wear thermal attire to maintain joint warmth (if needed).
- Wear aquatic exercise shoes for greater support and cushioning.
- Move affected joints gently through a comfortable range of motion.
- Reduce range, decrease speed and minimise surface area to reduce intensity of movements.
- Provide an extended warm-up of gentle range-of-motion exercises to fully warm up joints before performing more vigorous strengthening or conditioning exercises. Submerge working joints in the water.
- Change activities and body positions frequently to avoid excessive joint strain from too many repetitions.
- Avoid extreme ranges of motion and overstretching.
- Avoid excessive impact or excessive resistance.
- Keep joints in neutral.
- If using hand-held equipment, to maintain a relaxed grip and provide breaks for hand and wrist relief.
- Take responsibility for your own bodies, recognise your limits, respect your pain and adjust the level of physical activity to the level of disease activity.
Source: Shirley Archer, Aquatic Exercise and Arthritis, April 2003, http://www.ptonthenet.com