Water Exercise for Fitness

Water activities can be an awesome source of exercise. When living on the islands the ocean is always nearby and it is tempting to want to spend all day every day in the water. Due to the nature of the extreme weather conditions that reach our islands, it is important to be informed and practice safety when participating in recreational activities. Even on a calm day the sway of the sea can do a number on our bodies.


Various principles of water distribution are present when a body is placed inside of it.

  • Bouyancy: Displaces the body’s weight and the way in which one carries it. People not only feel lighter, but taller when they get in the water. These two feelings are derived from the waters ability to distract the joints and decompress the spine. It also makes attaining good posture easy as it counteracts the effect of gravity on the body.
  • Hydrostatic pressure: Provides compression to the skin and other organs of the body creating a pressure gradient. It changes the way fluids flow throughout the body. Even slowly transitioning from the standing to floating position can affect the way the blood, lymph, and inflammation flow throughout the body.
  • Variable Resistance: Flotation devices held under the water are used to increase coordination and strength of the muscles in the arms, legs, and trunk. As the float attempts to rise upward the body will stabilize to keep it in place.


Benefits of aqua therapy

  • Increased fitness (VO2max): Due to the challenge it puts on the respiratory system and trunk muscles, water activities are great for increasing cardiovascular fitness and endurance of exercise. Even something as small as the temperature of the water can change the intensity of the workout.
  • Increased metabolism: With an increase in respiratory fitness, improved diaphragmatic/core activation, and muscle endurance is an increase in economy of movement. All of these factors work together to improve your energy utilization and fat breakdown.
  • Decreased weight bearing: Pregnant women tend to love the water because the 25-35 lbs they gained in the last 9 months is lifted. In the same principle those with joint degenerative issues such as stenosis or arthritis also benefit from the decreased compression on the joints. For all it means less pounding and less pain.
  • Balance: Currents, eddys, and rips all make being in the water challenging. Things like the wind, tides, pumps, or even another person can cause ripples that extend throughout the whole body of water. Our balance is challenged by these forces and most directly the core.
  • Blood flow and joint nutrition: The oscillatory rise and fall movement caused by waves create the same effect on the joints. They will open (distract) and close (compress) creating a pump type mechanism, pushing blood and nutrients into and out of the joints. This will improve healing rates and recovery time.

Examples of diagnoses/disorders that would benefit from aqua therapy:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Vascular such as Hypertension, venous insufficiency, varicose veins
  • Deconditioning
  • Low back pain
  • Spinal Stenosis/Disc herniation
  • Spinal fusions
  • Pregnancy/Post-partum
  • Cartilage damage
  • Any non-weight bearing or decreased weight bearing foot/ankle, knee, or hip injury


Common activities/sports:

  • Water aerobics
  • Swimming
  • Diving (shallow and deep)
  • Board sports (surfing, boogie, and body)
  • Underwater breathing training, and etc.

Use the information presented in this blog to improve your experience in the water. If you think you, or someone you know, would benefit from training for aquatic environments, please give us a call at OSR.  And remember to be safe in all your water adventures!




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