The Healing Powers of Warm Water Exercise

Get your feet wet with warm water exercise!

For those suffering from arthritis, fibromyalgia and other conditions that affect the joints, doctors often recommend exercise. Regular, moderate exercise offers a multitude of benefits, including:

But it’s difficult to think about pounding away on a treadmill or lifting weights when some days it can be hard to get out of bed. Warm water exercise can be just the ticket to regular physical activity.

Water is buoyant and therefore puts less stress on the joints than traditional land exercises, such as walking and jogging. Water also acts as resistance naturally. Every movement in the water works to build muscle strength. The water supports joints and encourages free movement.  

Warm water raises body temperature. Elevated body temperature causes blood vessels to dilate, thereby increasing circulation. Just as using a heating pad may relieve pain when applied to an elbow or a knee, think of warm water as a way to apply heat to all of your body at one time.

Do apply caution when using warm water so as not to overheat. There are two main uses of warm water with pain: exercising in warm water and soaking in warm to hot water. When doing moderate exercise, the Arthritis Foundation recommends 83 – 88 degree water. However, after years of running water classes for those with joint pain, we know that most people prefer a water temperature even warmer—in the low to mid-90s. When using water for soaking, the Arthritis Foundation recommends a higher temperature of 98-104 degrees with a strict time limit of 10-15 minutes. Most importantly, check with your doctor for his or her recommendations, and be sure to listen to your body.

When beginning a water exercise routine, consider participating in a water exercise class or seeking out individual instruction. Although solo exercise can work just fine, proper form and technique when working out in the water is just as important as it is on land. In addition, the motivation and camaraderie of working out with others will keep you coming back for more!

Would you like to try warm water exercise? acac Fitness & Wellness Centers offer comprehensive indoor aquatics facilities and programming. At our primary clubs, there are daily Water Exercise classes and our physician referred exercise program (p.r.e.p.) offers a special aquatic training track. To view warm water group classes at an acac club near you, visit the group class schedule and filter by class type (aquatics):

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