Skip to content

    Osteoarthritis Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Can the New Wave of Watery Workouts Help Your Arthritis?

    Water exercise can be beneficial to many people -- young and old.
    By
    WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature

    Last one in the water is a ... Remember this challenge from your childhood? For today's fitness-conscious adults, it has new meaning. Don't be the last person to discover the new wave of water workouts -- for strength and cardio training, flexibility, relaxation, rehabilitation, and weight management.

    "We're seeing growth in both ends of the spectrum [of aquatic workouts], from high-intensity exercises like kickboxing and circuit training to mind/body workouts like ai chi, which combines tai chi and shiatsu massage," says Julie See, president of the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA) in Nokomis, Fla. "We're working against a perception that aquatic exercise is just for old people, not the young and fit. With younger people coming into the water, we're starting to see a lot of sport-specific training and one-on-one personal training."

    Recommended Related to Osteoarthritis

    6 Ways to Ruin Your Knees

    Whether you're a seasoned athlete, a weekend warrior, or totally laid-back when it comes to exercise, knowing how to protect your knees from damage can mean the difference between a fulfilling lifestyle and longterm, strained mobility. Cruising on the track in the heat of a roller derby match, 27-year-old Rachel Piplica was not at all prepared for the realization that her knee could sideline her from competitive skating for months, possibly years. "Suddenly, I heard a pop and it felt like...

    Read the 6 Ways to Ruin Your Knees article > >

    "If it's been a decade or more since you had a water fitness class, you'll see many changes," says Jane Katz, EdD, associate professor of health and physical education, City College of New York, and author of Aquafit: Water Workouts for Total Fitness. "Back then it would have been traditional skills of breathing, floating and swimming, which are still taught today, but with the addition of stretching and vertical exercises" done in a standing position.

    Another difference, she says, is the abundance of exercise equipment. A lot of landlubber gear has made its way to the pool: handheld weights, rubber tubing, even bicycles and treadmills. Plus, the old aquatic stand-bys like fins and kickboards are no longer "one-size-fits all." They're engineered in a host of styles to suit specific applications.

    Who Can Benefit From Water Exercise?

    Water exercise can benefit virtually everyone, says Katz. A former Olympian, she teaches fitness and swimming to New York City firefighters and police officers and also has a special fondness for a class for women in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. Athletes use water to rehabilitate after injury or to cross-train. People with arthritis or other disabilities that can’t perform land exercise use water to improve fitness and range of motion and to relieve pain and stiffness.

    Age and physical condition aren't issues in the water. Kids love to play in water without realizing it's good for them. Seniors who rely on a walker or wheelchair on land can stand in water with the help of flotation belts and water's buoyancy. Water exercises provide less stress on the bodies of pregnant women.

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    elderly hands
    Even with arthritis pain.
    woman exercising
    Here are 7 easy tips.
     
    acupuncture needles in woman's back
    How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
    chronic pain
    Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
     
    Keep Joints Healthy
    SLIDESHOW
    Chronic Pain Healthcheck
    HEALTH CHECK
     
    close up of man with gut
    Article
    man knee support
    Article
     
    woman with cold compress
    QUIZ
    Man doing tai chi
    Article
     
    hand gripping green rubber ball
    Slideshow
    person walking with assistance
    Slideshow