It’s well known that staying active and getting exercise regularly is essential to staying healthy and aging well. Exercise and an active lifestyle in the senior years are associated with better health overall, but especially dementia prevention and lower risk of falling. So for older adults that want to stay as healthy as possible as they age, exercise is not negotiable. But health problems common to seniors such as arthritis can make exercise a real challenge. This is where aqua therapy can step in and provide a solution by allowing seniors to engage in regular exercise while taking it easy on arthritic joints.
What is Aqua Therapy?
Aqua therapy is a form of physical therapy that is great for all ages and ability levels but is particularly wonderful for aging adults. It takes place in a pool heated to the ideal temperature of 83-88 degrees. This temperature is important because it increases circulation and loosens tight tissues for more freedom of movement. This therapy occurs in a group setting but can be performed in private sessions if need be. Aqua therapy can include a wide range of exercises ranging from water aerobics to strength training to gentle stretches and is useful for treating injuries, rehabilitation, and general health and fitness.
5 Ways Aqua Therapy Benefits Seniors
- Boosts Mood and Reduces Anxiety- Just like any other form of exercise, aqua therapy releases endorphins, sometimes called feel-good hormones, that help to boost mood and reduce feelings of anxiety. Being in the water also has relaxing benefits that can even further reduce anxiety. And the group setting of most aqua therapy sessions provides much-needed social interaction that helps combat feelings of anxiety and loneliness.
- Natural Low Impact Resistance- Lifting weights and running on treadmills may be too high impact for aged, injured, or arthritic joints. Water provides a natural resistance to tone and build muscle while being very gentle on joints. Water also provides natural buoyancy that takes the weight off of sore joints and makes some exercises in water possible that would be too painful to do otherwise.
- Improves Heart Health- Just because aqua therapy is gentle doesn’t mean it’s intense. Exercise in water is an excellent way to raise the heart rate to get the aerobic workout that is so important for good cardiovascular health. Aquatic exercise may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by conditioning the heart and lungs to work more efficiently.
- Increases Strength and Improves Balance- Falls are a major concern for older adults. As we age we tend to lose muscle strength. This and other health issues can have a huge impact on our balance. As a result, we become less steady on our feet and more prone to falling. Exercising in the water helps strengthen and build muscle and “fighting” against the movement of the water improves balance to reduce the risk of falling. Exercising in water is also safer for seniors with a history of falls because if you do happen to fall during therapy the water will prevent a hard impact that could result in injury.
- Reduces Swelling and Pain- The force that liquid places on the molecules in the body when it’s immersed in water is called hydrostatic pressure. This pressure is present even if there is no movement at all. Simply being submerged in water can help force excess fluids out of the tissues to reduce swelling, relieve pain, and improve circulation and range of motion.
Before beginning any exercise program it’s always best to consult with your doctor. If your doctor determines that aqua therapy is right for you, you can take full advantage of Ashbridge Manor’s pool and fitness center as well as our personal trainer and on-site therapists. You’ll also have the opportunity to take part in group exercise programs or even design your own aquatic exercise program if you wish.
At Ashbridge Manor Senior Living, we pride ourselves on creating an environment that enables seniors to lead a socially active lifestyle to improve their health. When it’s time to transition to a senior living facility, contact our professional staff members and we can help make it easy. You can find us at 971 E. Lancaster Avenue in Downingtown, PA, call 610.269.8800, or contact us online for more information. Ask us about our move-in special!.