Water Exercise for Seniors
A Dive into Good Health continued...
There are psychological and social benefits as well. People
feel better about themselves, are more engaged in community activities, and
they tend to not lose their independence because they're physically fit, says
Bottom line, there are many reasons for older adults to
"just do it."
So when a recent study came out declaring the pluses of
workouts in H20, no one threw up their goggles in excitement. The
research led by Nobuo Takeshima of Nagoya City University of Japan appears in
the March 2002 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports and
"It didn't tell me anything I didn't already know,"
says Shannon Whetstone Mescher, a certified health educator and vice president
of programs and services for the Arthritis Foundation (AF), who reviewed the
Takeshima's research found that older women who participated in
regular water exercise over 12 weeks experienced more strength, flexibility,
and agility, and better total cholesterol levels.
Michael E. Rogers, PhD, Takeshima's co-author and director of
the Center for Physical Activity and Aging at Wichita State University in
Kansas, says the difference between their research and others lies in the focus
of the investigation.
Previous studies, he says, concentrated on the cardiovascular
benefits and safety of swimming or aqua aerobics. "Our study combined aqua
aerobics -- walking and dancing in the water -- with actual strength training
in the water. The participants lifted weights while they were in the
On average, he says aqua exercise participants increased their
strength by 27% in the quadriceps, 40% in the hamstrings, and about 10% in the
upper body region.
Rogers attributes the increase in strength to the resistance
that can be more easily experienced in water than on land.
Aquatic Classes for the Masses
If anyone has put muscle behind water fitness programs, it's
the Arthritis Foundation. The organization has been hosting aquatic classes for
all ages at local gyms and hospitals in the last 25 years.
"It's our most popular program," says Whetstone
Mescher, who observes that many people enjoy being able to exercise and
socialize with others in the pool.