Isn’t water wonderful?! Whether you’re an avid competitive swimmer or just enjoy lounging on a floating chair sipping your favorite beverage, there is something naturally appealing about being in or on the water.
Not only is water a great setting for sport and leisure, it also happens to be one of the most beneficial ways to keep your body fit and healthy. Just two and a half hours per week of aerobic physical activity can decrease the risk of chronic illnesses. Swimming and other water-based exercises have long been considered one of the best ways to get this important dose of activity.
But why is water so conducive to a great workout? We will go over many of the amazing health benefits of water exercise, including how it can help people suffering from chronic pain.
Water Exercise is a Low Impact Activity
Traditional exercise, or exercise performed in a “dry” environment, can be taxing due to the impact shock of gravity pulling the body toward the ground. But plunge into water and the influence of gravity almost disappears. Due to water’s buoyancy, the human body tends to float, or at least almost. If you have ever spent time in water, you know this feeling. Think of it as similar to how you would expect your body to behave while walking on the moon.
Since your body is not subject to the same gravitational force when in water, the stress that exercising places on your bones, joints, and muscles is greatly reduced compared to the same exercise on land. This allows for a lot more beneficial movement and activity, improving your overall health while minimizing aches and pain.
Water Exercise Improves Joint Function
Water-based exercises have shown to relieve pressure on the joints. Whether you suffer from a joint-related health condition, or your joints are simply degenerating from normal wear and tear, water exercise can improve use of joints and decrease pain.
This makes swimming and water aerobics particularly effective exercise choices for people with joint conditions like arthritis or osteoarthritis.
Water Exercise Builds Muscular Strength and Flexibility
Water is much heavier and denser than air, which means it offers a greater natural resistance to movement. In fact, due to water’s fluidity and tendency to move in all kinds of different and unpredictable ways, resistance can range from four to 42 times greater in water than air.
All this resistance makes each individual movement more difficult in water, requiring more muscular effort to complete various exercises. But since water exercise helps minimize joint pain and fatigue, the body is generally able to continue the activity for longer, ensuring the muscles get a solid workout.
As an added bonus, the natural resistance of water has also shown to increase flexibility along with muscle strength. As the body adjusts to the resistance of water, range of motion naturally increases.
A study conducted in 2007 found that after 12 weeks of regular aquatic aerobic exercise, participants had made significant gains in strength, flexibility, and agility.
Greater strength and flexibility allow the body to cope with daily activities and stressors more effectively, which can help reduce the impact of chronic pain.
Water Exercise is Great for Your Heart
Swimming and water aerobics are a fantastic way to get some good cardio activity. We have already touched on why. The resistance of water requires extra exertion to complete movements, while the low-impact nature of water exercise allows you to continue your workout for longer intervals. All this prolonged effort really gets your heart pumping!
Regular cardio exercise is not only good for heart health, but it can also help you swiftly burn calories and lose weight. Losing weight reduces the daily stress placed on your bones and joints, which can help alleviate chronic pain.
Additionally, water exercise is believed to be good for blood flow. Studies have shown that immersion in water can help blood flow more effectively through the body. The oxygen and nutrients that blood carries are key to the body’s natural healing abilities. As a result, water exercise that promotes healthy blood flow allows your body to heal more efficiently, which can help reduce the impact of chronic pain.
Suit Up and Take the Plunge
There is no doubt about it, water exercise is a great way to stay fit and healthy. It is an especially beneficial option for chronic pain patients. Getting regular exercise is usually a key part of managing pain. But the symptoms of chronic pain can also make many types of exercise difficult to perform. This can be quite the conundrum.
Water exercise helps solve this problem by presenting a low-impact solution. This reduces stress on the body, making it easier to get a good workout while keeping detrimental pain at bay.
MEDICAL ADVICE DISCLAIMER: This information presented in this article is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or pain management provider before starting a healthcare or exercise regimen. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you read on this website.