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Easing the Pain of Arthritis Through Water Exercise

Many people admit they have a love-hate relationship with exercise. For someone with arthritis, however, it’s often a pure “hate” relationship. Traditional land exercises place a tremendous amount of pressure on joints. As such, a supposedly healthy activity ends up causing pain, and the arthritis sufferer gives up on exercise. Pools and water training provide solutions to this problem, making exercise pleasurable and painless again.

Vertical = Victory

According to WebMD, most water-based exercise is done in a vertical, or standing, position. This is important for arthritis sufferers because horizontal exercise or vigorous swimming may damage inflamed joints. Also, swimming is a repetitive motion, which increases inflammation. In contrast, doctors recommend varied vertical water exercises like kickboxing or tai chi for arthritis suffers. Exercises like these employ meditation and concentration as well as body movement. This allows the exerciser to focus on the activity rather than the pain.

Increased Circulation and Buoyancy

First-time water exercisers may feel intimidated because they think the only way to workout is to swim. Overweight exercisers may also struggle because they assume that like land exercises, water activities must be performed a certain way to burn calories. However, “water accommodates both the fit and unfit,” according to WebMD. “Once we’re in the pool, we’re all the same.”

Water exercises don’t require specific postures like activities performed on gym equipment. In addition, water provides greater resistance than air, which means circulation is increased no matter where or how much someone moves. Finally, since water increases buoyancy, the overweight need not feel self-conscious. Water helps people feel lighter, decreasing physical and emotional pressure.

Various Exercise Options

A common misconception about water exercise is that it’s for older people and only consists of raising and lowering the limbs. While several arthritis exercises do employ lifting, they are not only for seniors. Also, many water exercise options are more challenging than traditional arm and leg lifts.

Doctors and physical therapists have found ways to incorporate land equipment like weights, bikes, and treadmills in the pool. Traditional arthritis exercises such as making arm circles or stretching knees and hips with back support can also be mixed into low-impact dance workouts.