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 Water Exercise Therapy:An Introduction to the New Wave : Water Exercise Therapy:
An Introduction to the New Wave

Basic definitions of water therapy
Water fitness has grown largely as a result of one fundamental demographic trend - our aging population. Water is seen as a more gentle medium. Therefore, water programs were initially developed for special populations, such as seniors, who were considered too out of shape to participate in the more strenuous land-based exercise programs. Water conditioning was thought of only for the weak or injured, those to whom land workouts might potentially create more problems than they solve. Though it is now changing, this limited view of water exercise is still prevalent among fitness professionals and the fitness public. Understanding vertical water exercise and the tremendous potential it represents for the betterment of the human condition is what this manual is all about. Aqua training allows the instructor to expand their horizons for their own continuing education (learning about the water), and applying fitness principles to water training.

It will help students and instructors to understand that water is more than doing laps, or just having fun. It may become one of the most widely used forms of exercise by the end of this decade. Some important reasons are listed below:

Table 1: Water Exercise Components

1) Reduces impact forces while exercising
2) "Unweights" the body, buoyant medium
3) Provides three dimensional resistance
4) Provides mainly concentric muscular contractions
5) Allows the joints to move along a natural path
6) Helps control core body temperature
7) Provides accommodating resistance
8) Human cardiovascular system works more efficiently in the water
9) Allows for a full range of motion
10) Provides a positive psychological environment
11) Time efficient

One thing should be understood concerning the relative buoyancy of water. It has nothing to do with how heavy a person is on land. It only has to do with how densely constructed that person is. Fat floats and muscle does not. Many aquatic professionals believe they must get a larger size water running belt or vest for an obese person than for a smaller, trimmer person. Usually just the opposite is true. Though an obese person may weight 250 pounds or more on land, in the water they are very buoyant and float quite easily. Thin persons, especially people who are muscular with little body fat are often negatively buoyant. In other words, they will sink in water. A 170 lb. athlete with 8% body fat needs a more buoyant flotation belt than a 300 lb. person with more than 30% body fat. One of the most attractive attributes of aquatic exercise is that its participants stay cooler than their land-based counterparts. Water facilities thermal exchange. A water temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit will cool the body several times faster than air at the same temperature. Because cool water dissipates heat so effectively, exercise can be done at a much more vigorous pace without the aquaciser becoming overheated.

When using water for a full line exercise program, the temperature of the water should be on the cool side of what the aquaciser thinks is comfortable. Normally, a pool temperature of 79o Fahrenheit (F) to 85o F is recommended. Though the pool may seem a little uncomfortable upon entering, within a few moments the aquacisers will appreciate the cooling effects of the water as they heat up.

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 About The Author
Eric Durak received his Master of Science degree from the University of Michigan in 1986. His research experience is in the application of exercise for special population groups, such as diabetes, high risk pregnancy,......more
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