The aquatic environment produces physiologic changes that help remove metabolic waste, improve cardiac function, lower blood pressure, and aid the body in tissue healing.
How Water Therapy Helps Your Circulatory System
Immediately after a person is immersed, water begins to exert pressure on the body, with the following results:
- Central venous pressure rises with immersion to the chest and increases until the body is completely immersed.
- Cardiac volume increases by nearly one-third with immersion to the neck.
Since the ultimate purpose of the heart is to pump blood, its measure of performance is the amount of blood pumped per unit of time. This is called cardiac output.
Submersion in water to the neck depth increases cardiac output by 32% at rest. Therefore, the claim that water exercise is not aerobically efficient is faulty. In fact, it may be the ideal cardiovascular conditioning medium.
Your Pulmonary System will also Benefit from Aquatic Exercise
Like the circulatory system, the pulmonary system is profoundly affected by immersing the body to the thorax. This is partly due to blood shifting into the chest cavity, and partly due to compression of the chest wall. The combined effect of immersion:
- Alters pulmonary function.
- Increases the work of breathing.
- Changes respiratory dynamics.
In fact, expiratory reserve volumes decrease by 75 percent at neck immersion, with vital capacity decreasing only slightly. These changes increase the total work of breathing by 60 percent.
A Regular Program of Water Exercise can Enhance Athletic Performance on Land
For an athlete accustomed to land-based exercise, water-based exercise is a significant workload challenge to the respiratory apparatus. With sufficient training time, this challenge can greatly improve the respiratory system’s efficiency.
Water Immersion Positively Affects the Muscle-Skeletal System
This is particularly true with vasoconstriction. On land, for instance, sympathetic vasoconstriction tightens the resistance vessels of the skeletal muscle to resist blood pooling. But in water, immersion pressure removes the biologic need for vasoconstriction, thus increasing muscle blood flow by 225 percent during neck immersion.
Aquatic Immersion also Creates Effects upon Renal Regulatory Systems
With increased water depth, the circulating central blood volume shifts, causing:
- Flow of blood to the kidneys to increase immediately upon immersion
- Increase in urine production
- Increased sodium and potassium excretion
More on Healing Properties of Water