Swimming pools can be for more than just fun. If they are therapy pools, they can provide healing and health benefits. Water therapy is an exercise program that is performed in the water. Aquatic therapy benefits individuals living with arthritis, Parkinson’s, after effects from a stroke, depression, scoliosis, diabetes, asthma and memory issues. It helps stave off chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Water therapy can help a variety of people deal with limitations and improve quality of life.
In waist deep water, body weight is reduced by approximately 50%, in neck deep water that increases to 90%. The buoyancy of water makes it much easier for painful arthritic older adults to move about. It reduces stress on joints and connective tissues.
Therapy pools are warmer than regular swimming pools. Because heat enables muscles to relax and move better, it promotes an increased range of motion. Higher temperature combined with ease of movement will improve blood flow to painful and injured areas. This can be particularly helpful for seniors suffering from muscle spasms and back pain. The warm moist air helps those seniors who suffer from exercise induced asthma.
In addition to buoyancy and warmth, the water also gives firm resistance to any object moving through it. Water offers 12-14% more resistance than exercising on land. This translates into a very efficient form of strengthening arms, legs and core muscles.
Finally, hydrostatic pressure and jets promote circulation, resulting in decreased swelling in extremities and less muscle soreness from exercise. When you are almost completely submerged in water, blood circulation improves dramatically.
Foxdale Village Retirement Community is adding a new therapy pool which will be available to residents and Foxdale staff. Discussion is under way to include access to older adults in the larger State College community at some future point. Construction should begin and end in 2015.