Water-based Exercise Combination for Postmenopausal Women

The effects of water-based exercise in combination with blood flow restriction training (BFR) on strength and functional capacity in postmenopausal women

By Joamira P. Araújo, Gabriel R. Neto, Gilmário Batista, Eduardo D. S. Freitas and Maria S. C. Sousa from the Department of Physical Education, Associate Graduate Program in Physical Education, UPE/UFPB Department of Physical Education, Kinanthropometry and Human Development Laboratory, UFPB, Brazil; Jeremy P. Loenneke from the Kevser Ermin Applied Physiology Laboratory, Department of Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management, The University of Mississippi, USA; Michael G. Bemben from the Department of Health and Exercise Science, Neuromuscular Research Laboratory, University of Oklahoma, USA; Gilberto C. Laurentino from the School of Physical Education and Sport, University of São Paulo, Brazil; Júlio C. G. Silva from the Department of Physical Education, Kinanthropometry and Human Development Laboratory, UFPB, Brazil

Water-based exercise and low-intensity exercise in combination with blood flow restriction training (BFR) are two methods that have independently been shown to improve muscle strength in those of advancing age.

The objective of this study was to assess the long-term effect of water-based exercise in combination with blood flow restriction training (BFR) on maximum dynamic strength and functional capacity in postmenopausal women.

Twenty-eight women underwent an 8-week water-based exercise program. The participants were randomly allocated to one of the three groups:

  1. water exercise only
  2. water exercise + blood flow restriction training (BFR)
  3. a non-exercise control group.

Functional capacity (chair stand test, timed up and go test, gait speed, and dynamic balance) and strength testing were tested before and after the 8-week aquatic exercise program.

The main findings were as follows:

  • water-based exercise in combination with blood flow restriction training (BFR) significantly increased the lower limb maximum strength which was not observed with water-based exercise alone.
  • water-based exercise, regardless of the application of blood flow restriction training (BFR), increased functional performance measured by the timed up and go test over a control group.

Although we used a healthy population in the current study, these findings may have important implications for those who may be contraindicated to using traditional resistance exercise. Future research should explore this promising modality in these clinical populations.