Everybody knows exercise is a significant part of staying healthy. As anyone with arthritis can tell you, though, when your joints say no to play, exercise goes from pleasurable and stimulating activity into a trial of how much pain you can tolerate.
The tendency when suffering from arthritis is to keep your joints as motionless as possible. The problem is that this leads to weakening of the muscles and tendons and a stiffening of joints, which makes the pain worse over time. It is a self-feeding cycle difficult to break out of.
One solution comes in the form of The Arthritis Foundation Aquatics Program, a warm water exercise program designed by the Arthritis Foundation. Why warm water exercise? The warmth offered by hot water allows muscles to relax and intensifies circulation of blood to the joints. In fact, ever since the discovery of the first hot springs, humans have used the miracle of warm water baths to fight aching joints.
Besides reducing the pain in your joints, exercising in water permits body weight to be supported. This makes exercising in water easier, safer and more relaxing. Not only that, but the resistance that water provides as your body moves in it helps strengthen muscles
These days, what with spas, health clubs and backyard hot tubs, just about anyone has access to a pool of hot water to relax in. Not only does this bring some immediate relief of arthritis symptoms, but it also provides us with a great environment in which we can exercise.
You should consult your doctor before beginning water exercise. Water exercise is completely safe for most people, with a few exceptions. If you’ve have suffered serious joint damage or replacement surgery you may be among them. Your doctor will know what’s right for you. Also be aware of temperature. Water between 83 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for exercise. Anything over 100 degrees may be relaxing, but can lead to overheating. After you’ve gotten the doctor go ahead, it’s time to get started.
The Arthritis Foundation Aquatics Program exercises can be found in the free brochure “Water Exercise: Pools, Spas and Arthritis” from the Arthritis Foundation. Classes are also offered at local pools nationwide—contact your local Arthritis Foundation office for information. The classes are lead by a trained instructor, usually last between 45 minutes to an hour and are scheduled 2 to 3 times a week.
With a doctor’s guidance, whether at a local pool or at home, a water exercise program is a fun and effective way to combat arthritis and keep joints and muscles healthy.