It’s a fact that regular exercise benefits older adults by building muscle strength, improving balance and flexibility, and boosting self-esteem. Due to medical conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis and tendonitis, many seniors don’t get the activity that they need. Thanks to aquatic therapy those same individuals can still exercise without putting a lot of stress on sensitive bones and tissues. If you are caring for an aging loved one who lives with chronic pain, here’s why water therapy might just be the relief they need.
What is Aquatic Therapy?
Aquatic therapy is therapy that’s done in a pool with warm water to restore movement and strength through the combination of heat, buoyancy and resistance. The goal of water therapy is to rehabilitate someone after an injury, or those with chronic illness, without placing a lot of weight on their sensitive tissues.
Water therapy is usually provided by a licensed physical therapist or occupational therapist. The warm water that’s used creates a soothing, low impact therapeutic environment by providing the right temperature and buoyancy for healing and recovery.
Positive Effects of Pool-Based Therapies
Seniors with a wide range of injuries and chronic conditions may benefit from pool-based therapies like aqua aerobics and aquatic therapy. This would include those with arthritis, low back pain, orthopedic injuries and tendonitis. In addition to its versatility, other benefits of water therapy include:
Helps prevent disease
Studies have shown that regular physical activity can help prevent or slow the progression of many chronic diseases that target the elderly. This would include diseases such as heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes. Also, exercise strengthens the immune system, which helps protect seniors from illnesses and infections.
Decreases one’s fall risk
One-in-four elderly Americans experience a serious fall every year, resulting in injuries like broken bones, hip fractures and contusions. Aquatic therapy helps lower a senior’s risk of falling by improving strength, flexibility and stability. Pool-based exercises can also help a patient recover more quickly from fall-related injuries.
Improves mental health
Exercising in water triggers the brain to release endorphins (the “feel good” hormone). These act as a natural stress-reliever in the body. In addition to alleviating stress and making a participant feel happier and more satisfied, it also helps promote a better night’s sleep.
Prevents cognitive decline
Regular physical activity like water exercises that fine-tune motor skills help sharpen a senior’s mental acuity and prevent cognitive decline. For example, scientists have found a link between regular exercise and a lower risk for dementia.
Promotes social engagement
Like everybody else, older adults are social creatures. Participating in aquatic exercises gives seniors a sense of purpose that helps prevent feelings of loneliness or depression. Making new friends at a water aerobics class is a fun way to get much-needed companionship, which ultimately im