Aquatic Therapy Benefits
How Aquatic Therapy Can Help Your Body and Mind
Following a program of aquatic therapy can have some very positive effects on your body’s systems, and can enhance your mental well-being at the same time.
How Buoyancy and Other Properties of Water can Benefit Your Joints and Muscles
- Decreased weight bearing
- Slowed bone density loss
- Less fat loss than with other forms of exercise
Water’s buoyancy helps people with load-sensitive joints to perform exercises with less stress and pain on the joints. Gravity is counterbalanced by the force of buoyancy. As the body gradually immerses, water is displaced, creating the force of buoyancy.
When you are immersed to your neck, only about 15 lbs. of compressive force is exerted on your spine, hips, and knees. This property helps people with degenerative conditions such as:
- Ligament instability
- Cartilage breakdown
The hydrostatic pressure of water has been shown to increase blood flow to resting muscles by 100 – 225%, with head-out immersion. This increase in blood flow can improve muscular performance by increasing the oxygen available and enhancing the removal of waste.
You will also see faster results with aquatic activities due to the velocity-dependent resistance of the water, which helps muscles to gain and maintain strength.
How Water Therapy Affects Your Cardiovascular System
On immersion up to the neck, 700 cm3 of blood are displaced from the extremities and abdominal vessels into the great veins and thorax and into the heart. This causes a significant increase in right atrial pressure, stroke volume, and cardiac output.
- Increased venous circulation
- Increased cardiac volume
- Increased cardiac output
- Decreased heart rate, systolic blood pressure and VO2 response to exercise
- Muscular circulation also increases several-fold
Water Immersion Exercise Gives Your Lungs a Healthy Workout
The work of breathing increases with immersion of the whole body due to the shift of venous blood from the peripheral to the central circulation, which increases circulation in the chest cavity. This creates several effects on your respiratory system:
- Decreased vital capacity
- Increased work of breathing due to water’s resistance
- Less chance of exercise-induced asthma
Resistance to lung expansion increases secondary to hydrostatic pressure on the chest wall. Your respiratory endurance can be improved due to the increased energy required to breathe. People with exercise-induced asthma can benefit from thermal aquatic bodywork because the humidity in the air decreases the likelihood of an asthma attack.
Your Kidneys can Also Benefit from Regular Aquatic Exercise
Hydrostatic pressure centralizes blood flow and this affects the production of hormones such as anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) and aldosterone. Therefore, production of urine and sodium, as well as potassium excretion, increases with immersion of the body.
These renal effects can be utilized in the treatment of those with hypertension and/or peripheral edema.
- Increased sodium and potassium excretion
People with healthy kidneys can also benefit from the increased renal blood flow during hydrotherapy, as this promotes continued healthy kidney function.
Hydrotherapy can Help if You Need Mental Stimulation, or Simple Relaxation
Your mental and physical health are closely connected. Taking good care of one will invariably have a beneficial effect on the other. While you experience the physical advantages that water exercise offers, you will likely experience a pleasant renewal of the mind.
Water therapy can be either relaxing or invigorating, depending on the temperature of the water. Whichever you prefer, you owe it to yourself to enjoy the transformation of mind and body that you can realize through hydrotherapy.