Pools Offer Fitness and Relief for Older Adults

While drinking plenty of water is critical to life, health and healing, simply submerging your body in water (i.e., a pool) opens up opportunities for relief and fitness for those who otherwise may have difficulty exercising.

This is especially important for aging adults and those with chronic conditions, say physical therapists and other health care professionals.

“When you do an exercise on land, like jogging, you get an impact on your joints,” said Torben Hersbork, an osteopath from the Central London Osteopathy and Sports Injury Clinic. “But, when you exercise in the water, you don’t have any gravity forcing your body weight down onto your joints.”

Because of this, experts say water exercise is ideal for people dealing with issues related to strength, flexibility, balance, sore joints and pain. This includes people recovering from injury or surgery, as well as those with chronic conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis and diabetes.

The buoyancy of waist-deep water, for example, can support around half our body weight, while neck-deep water can reduce body weight by up to 90 percent. Such reduction in weight and impact on the joints can help people who may experience difficulty standing, balancing and exercising on land to move more freely – and often with less pain.

In addition, water offers 12 times the resistance of the air around us. Because of this added resistance, movement and exercise while submerged in a pool can help build overall strength and stability in the body.

“If you are over 50, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends moderately intense aerobic exercise for 30 minutes a day, four times a week, plus resistance strength training, plus balance and flexibility training,” said Mary E. Sanders, a researcher at the University of Nevada (Reno). “A swimming pool provides the one place where you can do all of that at the same time without the need for a lot of machines – at your own pace and more comfortably.”

One study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise back in 2007 showed that older women who regularly participated in a pool-based exercise program performed better in daily tasks than others who exercised similarly on land. The women in the study, for example, improved their walking speed by 16 percent, their agility by 20 percent, and their ability to walk stairs by 22 percent.

Another study published earlier in the same publication (2002) showed that combining aqua aerobics with strength training while in the pool helped participants increase their strength by 27 percent in the quads, 40 percent in the hamstrings, and about 10 percent in the upper body.

Even when people suffer from common chronic diseases like arthritis and osteoporosis, water exercise can help improve the use of affected joints while decreasing overall pain.

“Exercise is an integral part of any arthritis treatment program, as it helps to strengthen and stabilize the joints, preventing further damage,” wrote Andrew Cole, M.D., an author on Arthritis-Health.com. “Water therapy is an excellent option for patients with osteoarthritis of the knees, hip osteoarthritis, and spinal osteoarthritis due to the decreased pressure placed on the joints.”

Those who feel pool exercise or aquatic therapy may help them improve fitness levels or overall functional abilities should first contact their physical therapist for professional guidance. A physical therapist can help identify your greatest weaknesses and needs, then develop a pool fitness plan that specifically addresses these needs and your personal goals.

 

SOURCES:

Arthritis-Health.com: Water Therapy for Osteoarthritis
https://www.arthritis-health.com/treatment/exercise/water-therapy-osteoarthritis

AAPR: Making a Splash with Water Workouts
https://www.aarp.org/health/fitness/info-2007/water_workouts.html

AARP: Water Works Aquatic Activity: A Painless Way to Stay Fit
https://www.aarp.org/health/fitness/info-12-2008/water_works_aquatic_activity_a_painless_way_to_stay_fit.html

“Take It to the Pool: Benefits of Aquatic Exercise for Arthritis”
https://fox11online.com/sponsored/osmsgb/take-it-to-the-pool-benefits-of-aquatic-exercise-for-arthritis

Daily Mail: How Can Aqua-Exercises Help You Slim?
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-105285/How-aqua-exercises-help-slim.html

Cleveland Clinic: Benefits of Water-Based Exercise
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/benefits-of-water-based-exercise/

CDC: Health Benefits of Water-Based Exercise
https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/swimmers/health_benefits_water_exercise.html

WebMD: Water Exercise for Seniors
https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/features/water-exercise-seniors#1

 

Armada Physical Therapy – Coors

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Monday to Friday 7:30am to 6:00pm

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Armand Larragoite, PT, DPT, Clinc Director

Armand received his doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2015 from the University of New Mexico. He began working in outpatient physical therapy right after school and is ASTM certified. Armand uses manual therapy in combination with exercise and dry needling level 1 to help return patients to their previous level of function. He enjoys working with all populations especially high school athletes for return to sport and injury prevention. In his free time Armand enjoys competing in CrossFit and camping with his wife and two dogs.

Armada Physical Therapy – Jefferson

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Monday to Friday 7:30am to 6:00pm

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  • Work Injury Rehabilitation

Elizabeth Lonergan, PT, DPT, Clinic Director

Elizabeth has been practicing as an outpatient orthopedic physical therapist since her graduation from the University of New Mexico Doctor of Physical Therapy program in 2015. She is passionate about using her skills in manual therapy and exercise prescription to decrease pain and return patients to the activities they love. Elizabeth enjoys working with athletes and holds a certificate in returning injured athletes to sport. As a classically trained dancer, Elizabeth has a particular interest in the treatment of dancers. She has passed the Cechetti National Student Ballet Exams, giving her a strong foundation in ballet technique, artistry, dance theory, and anatomy of the dancer.

She received advanced education in dance, anatomy, and biomechanics at New Mexico State University, where she was a member of the Contemporary Dance Theater. Here she was able to expand her knowledge of dance to many different styles including modern, jazz, contemporary, ballroom, and flamenco. Upon graduation from NMSU with her BA in Kinesiology and Minors in Dance technique education and psychology, Elizabeth moved to Albuquerque where she danced professionally with Ballet Repetory Theater of New Mexico.

Elizabeth has completed dance specific physical therapy training with Marika Molnar, the physical therapy provider for New York City Ballet. She has also attended courses with NYU’s Harkness Center for Dance Injuries for dance specific rehabilitation, shoe fitting, and dance nutrition. Elizabeth has had the opportunity to work with many dance companies in Albuquerque, and is the premier physical therapy provider for Keshet Dance Company. Outside of work, Elizabeth continues to dance and enjoys spending time with her husband and 3 dogs.

Armada Physical Therapy – Los Lunas

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  • Work Injury Rehabilitation

Melody Rattanapote-Malaney, PT, DPT, Clinic Director

Mel is a native New Mexican, born and raised in Albuquerque. She graduated with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) from Missouri State University before returning to New Mexico to work in outpatient, inpatient, and home health physical therapy settings. Mel has spent her career in the rural communities of Socorro and Valencia counties and has treated many patients from age 0 to 97 with a variety of musculoskeletal and neurological pathologies. She has specialized training in functional dry needling in addition to other familiar evidence-based physical therapy interventions and techniques. Mel prefers individualized treatment sessions and is passionate about patient education and the restoration of function and quality of life. When not in clinic, Mel spends her time with her husband and furry children and enjoys photography, hiking, and road biking

Armada Physical Therapy – Menaul

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  • Pediatric Orthopedic PT
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  • Trigger Point Dry Needling
  • Work Injury Rehabilitation

K. Violet Dinnen, DPT, Clinic Director

Violet received her Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of New Mexico. Her practice relies on evidence-based manual therapy techniques and she particularly enjoys treating foot, ankle, and upper extremity conditions. She has taken several continuing education courses that focus on biomechanical principles and manual therapy treatments. Outside of work, she likes to exercise, golf, practice yoga, and travel whenever possible.

Tracy Mechenbier, DPT

Tracy has practiced primarily in the outpatient orthopedic setting and has also continued to work in the inpatient neurological rehab setting, on a PRN basis to keep up her skills. She obtained her B.S. in Exercise Science from the University of New Mexico before attaining her Doctorate Degree in Physical Therapy from UNM in 2015. Tracy’s strengths are in constructing creative exercise programs relevant to patient’s lifestyles, as well as performing manual therapy techniques. She currently utilizes dry needling for pain reduction and to address ROM limitations. Prior to working as a physical therapist, Tracy was a personal trainer and soccer coach. She played competitive soccer throughout her youth and into college. Currently she spends her free time staying active with her husband and four young children.

Armada Physical Therapy – Rio Rancho

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Timothy Serrano, PT, DPT, FAAOMPT, Clinic Director

A California native, Timothy, moved to New Mexico and completed his undergraduate degree from UNM in 2008. He then took time to study Black Mantled Howler monkeys in Costa Rica and Ecuador as a research assistant before earning his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina in 2013. He has since earned several advanced certifications including his Diploma of Osteopractic (2015) from the American Academy of Manipulative Therapy (AAMT) that comprises certifications in Spinal Manipulation (Cert. SMT) and musculoskeletal and peri-neural Dry Needling (Cert. DN). In 2018 he completed an Orthopedic Fellowship accredited with the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT) which is a national organization committed to excellence in Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy practice, education and research. During his Fellowship he helped conduct research on cervicogenic headaches (headaches that are caused by the upper neck) with AAMT. As of 2019 he is one of eight with the FAAOMPT distinction in the entire state of New Mexico.  He has  a tremendous passion for helping all patients with any musculoskeletal conditions and works well with patients in targeting and achieving their specific goals for returning and restoring them back to their desired quality of life. When he is not in the clinic, he enjoys playing board games with friends and family, hiking, camping or exploring the outdoors with his dog Rupert.