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The Potential Benefits of Water Exercises for those with Osteoarthritis

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I love a good workout in the pool. As an avid runner, it is a great way to take some of the stress off of my bones from all of that constant pounding on the pavement, plus it works different muscle groups. It is a great overall workout.

Also called aquatic exercise, pool therapy, or hydrotherapy, water exercise can consist of aerobic or endurance activities, strengthening, and stretching exercises. I know for a fact that my 105-year-old grandma uses her bathtub for an exercise center. She kicks, stretches, and bends….until someone finally comes to help her get out! Seriously, water exercises are a great way to improve one’s fitness level. The best temperature range for most pool exercise is 82F to 86F. Therapeutic pools are typically heated between 92F and 98F, and those are great for those gentle range-of-motion activities.

Water exercises can be better than exercises done on land because the buoyancy of the water supports the weight of the body. When you are in waist-deep water, you are bearing just bout 50 percent of your weight. When in chest-deep water, subtract another 25 percent of your weight. This is perfect for those suffering from osteoarthritis, as they are reducing the stress on their joints that make it otherwise difficult to stand and walk on those weight-bearing joints while on land.

Exercise done in the water is very effective, as water provides 12 times the resistance of air. When an osteoarthritis patient walks in the water, she can build and strengthen her muscles. Compared to exercises done on land, those done in water are less painful for these patients.

Those who suffer from knee osteoarthritis and hip osteoarthritis do get some benefit from engaging in water exercises. According to a Cochrane Review published on October 17, 2007, researchers studied six trials that included 800 patients with osteoarthritis. Four of those six studies included patients with osteoarthritis of the hip or the knee. One study had only patients with hip osteoarthritis, while another study focused on those with knee osteoarthritis.

The patients performed water exercises for certain amounts of time and in various sessions.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.