Pools Offer Fitness and Relief for Older Adults

While drinking plenty of water is critical to life, health and healing, simply submerging your body in water (i.e., a pool) opens up opportunities for relief and fitness for those who otherwise may have difficulty exercising.

This is especially important for aging adults and those with chronic conditions, say physical therapists and other health care professionals.

“When you do an exercise on land, like jogging, you get an impact on your joints,” said Torben Hersbork, an osteopath from the Central London Osteopathy and Sports Injury Clinic. “But, when you exercise in the water, you don’t have any gravity forcing your body weight down onto your joints.”

Because of this, experts say water exercise is ideal for people dealing with issues related to strength, flexibility, balance, sore joints and pain. This includes people recovering from injury or surgery, as well as those with chronic conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis and diabetes.

The buoyancy of waist-deep water, for example, can support around half our body weight, while neck-deep water can reduce body weight by up to 90 percent. Such reduction in weight and impact on the joints can help people who may experience difficulty standing, balancing and exercising on land to move more freely – and often with less pain.

In addition, water offers 12 times the resistance of the air around us. Because of this added resistance, movement and exercise while submerged in a pool can help build overall strength and stability in the body.

“If you are over 50, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends moderately intense aerobic exercise for 30 minutes a day, four times a week, plus resistance strength training, plus balance and flexibility training,” said Mary E. Sanders, a researcher at the University of Nevada (Reno). “A swimming pool provides the one place where you can do all of that at the same time without the need for a lot of machines – at your own pace and more comfortably.”

One study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise back in 2007 showed that older women who regularly participated in a pool-based exercise program performed better in daily tasks than others who exercised similarly on land. The women in the study, for example, improved their walking speed by 16 percent, their agility by 20 percent, and their ability to walk stairs by 22 percent.

Another study published earlier in the same publication (2002) showed that combining aqua aerobics with strength training while in the pool helped participants increase their strength by 27 percent in the quads, 40 percent in the hamstrings, and about 10 percent in the upper body.

Even when people suffer from common chronic diseases like arthritis and osteoporosis, water exercise can help improve the use of affected joints while decreasing overall pain.

“Exercise is an integral part of any arthritis treatment program, as it helps to strengthen and stabilize the joints, preventing further damage,” wrote Andrew Cole, M.D., an author on Arthritis-Health.com. “Water therapy is an excellent option for patients with osteoarthritis of the knees, hip osteoarthritis, and spinal osteoarthritis due to the decreased pressure placed on the joints.”

Those who feel pool exercise or aquatic therapy may help them improve fitness levels or overall functional abilities should first contact their physical therapist for professional guidance. A physical therapist can help identify your greatest weaknesses and needs, then develop a pool fitness plan that specifically addresses these needs and your personal goals.

 

SOURCES:

Arthritis-Health.com: Water Therapy for Osteoarthritis
https://www.arthritis-health.com/treatment/exercise/water-therapy-osteoarthritis

AAPR: Making a Splash with Water Workouts
https://www.aarp.org/health/fitness/info-2007/water_workouts.html

AARP: Water Works Aquatic Activity: A Painless Way to Stay Fit
https://www.aarp.org/health/fitness/info-12-2008/water_works_aquatic_activity_a_painless_way_to_stay_fit.html

“Take It to the Pool: Benefits of Aquatic Exercise for Arthritis”
https://fox11online.com/sponsored/osmsgb/take-it-to-the-pool-benefits-of-aquatic-exercise-for-arthritis

Daily Mail: How Can Aqua-Exercises Help You Slim?
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-105285/How-aqua-exercises-help-slim.html

Cleveland Clinic: Benefits of Water-Based Exercise
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/benefits-of-water-based-exercise/

CDC: Health Benefits of Water-Based Exercise
https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/swimmers/health_benefits_water_exercise.html

WebMD: Water Exercise for Seniors
https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/features/water-exercise-seniors#1

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Dr. Matthew Kirsten PT, DPT, TPI Level 1 Cert.

Dr. Matthew Kirsten is a local to Mission Viejo having graduated from Mission Viejo High School in 2004. Matt received his Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton in 2009 where he also competed as a Division 1 pole vaulter on the track and field team. After his graduation from CSUF, Matt returned to his high school to coach the pole vault team. Matt went on to get his Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from the University of St. Augustine in San Diego. Matt has since received certification from the Titleist Performance Institute as a level 1 medical professional. He continues to enjoy working with athletes of all skill levels and getting his patients back to the activities they are passionate about. In his spare time, Matt enjoys playing ice hockey and watching sports with his wife Jennifer and son Logan.

Robert Oakes, PTA

Bobby Oakes grew up in Capistrano Beach, California and attended St. Margaret’s Episcopal High School in San Juan Capistrano. He received his Physical Therapy Assistant License in October of 2018 after attending American Career College in Anaheim. Bobby is also Titleist Performance Institute Certified in addition to his physical therapy credentials. During his free time Bobby enjoys playing golf, surfing, running, and traveling. Bobby strives to provide the best treatment for every patient he sees and will always go the extra mile to provide the best care.

 

Jessica England, Patient Service Rep.

West Covina

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Saousan Ramadan, PT, DPT

Saousan is originally from Boston, MA and obtained her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Simmons University. She began working with pediatrics, and has since worked with sports related injuries and the geriatric population.   She enjoys working with all populations and is an advocate for patient education and injury prevention. In her spare time, she loves to travel and has been to 18 countries (so far). She speaks 5 languages conversationally in addition to being bilingual in Arabic and English.

Ed Detels OTR/L CHT, Certified Hand Therapist

Ed Detels has been practicing hand therapy for over 20 years in Orange County. He has a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy and obtained his national designation as a Certified Hand Therapist in 2002. He partnered with PRN to found California Hand Therapy in 2005, which has grown to 11 centers and employs 8 certified hand therapists as the leading outpatient hand therapy group on the West coast. Ed obtained his certification in ASTYM (a soft-tissue mobilization technique) as well as extensive continuing education with custom splinting, kinesiotape application and nerve mobilization. Ed is the father of three.

San Juan Capistrano

Hours:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 8:00 am – 7:00 pm
Tuesday: 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Thursday: 8:00 am – 1:00 pm

Services

  • Manual Therapy
  • Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedic Surgery Rehabilitation
  • Biomechanical Analysis
  • Industrial/ Work Comp Injuries
  • Neck and Spine Injuries
  • Performance Enhancement
  • Ergonomic Assessment
  • Physical Therapy
  • Balance & Gait Training
  • Surgical Rehab
  • Sports Therapy
  • Sports Injury Rehab
  • Manual Therapy
  • Spine Specialists
  • Worker’s Comp Rehab
  • Strengthening
  • Conditioning
  • Pain Control
  • Throwing Rehab
  • ACL Rehab
  • Joint Replacements

Dr. Matthew Kirsten PT, DPT, TPI Level 1 Cert.

Dr. Matthew Kirsten is a local to Mission Viejo having graduated from Mission Viejo High School in 2004. Matt received his Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton in 2009 where he also competed as a Division 1 pole vaulter on the track and field team. After his graduation from CSUF, Matt returned to his high school to coach the pole vault team. Matt went on to get his Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from the University of St. Augustine in San Diego. Matt has since received certification from the Titleist Performance Institute as a level 1 medical professional. He continues to enjoy working with athletes of all skill levels and getting his patients back to the activities they are passionate about. In his spare time, Matt enjoys playing ice hockey and watching sports with his wife Jennifer and son Logan.

Robert Oakes, PTA

Bobby Oakes grew up in Capistrano Beach, California and attended St. Margaret’s Episcopal High School in San Juan Capistrano. He received his Physical Therapy Assistant License in October of 2018 after attending American Career College in Anaheim. Bobby is also Titleist Performance Institute Certified in addition to his physical therapy credentials. During his free time Bobby enjoys playing golf, surfing, running, and traveling. Bobby strives to provide the best treatment for every patient he sees and will always go the extra mile to provide the best care.

Jessica England, Patient Service Rep.