We all know about the benefits of exercise but some people have a mental block about exercising. Many feel it takes them back to bad memories of school sports, being made to trudge around frozen fields on a cold winter morning. Could water exercise be different? Could it be more appealing and does it still hold as many benefits as conventional exercise?
Water exercise is a type of resistance training that usually takes place in shallow water. Walking from one end of the pool to the other can be enough exercise for some, but weights, elastic bands, other devices can be used to increase the level of intensity. The exercise is low-impact, so there is not as much stress placed on joints and bones. And because of this, it has become a favorite for athletes, physical therapists, and even the obese.
Water Exercise and Sleep
There is plenty of evidence to show that regular, resistance-style exercise such as running and aerobics, improves the quality of sleep. Unfortunately, many older adults and the elderly aren’t able to benefit because their bodies cannot handle the impact of regular resistance exercise. A recent study was conducted on older adults with mild sleep impairments in order to see if they could get similar benefits from water-based exercise. The participants were fitted with an electronic bracelet that monitored sleep patterns, and then split into two groups. The first group participated in two hour-long sessions over an eight-week period, while the second group did not exercise. At the end of the exercise phase, researchers determined that the water-based exercise improved several aspects of the participant’s sleep patterns. Improvements in the first group included a shorter sleep onset latency, which is the time it takes a person to fall asleep, and sleep efficiency, the amount of time actually spent sleeping.
Water Exercise and Metabolic Syndrome
Another study focused exercise for elderly women with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a serious condition that includes high blood pressure and blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels, and excess body fat around the waist. Researchers gathered three groups of elderly women and assigned them one of three types of exercise: muscle-strengthening, water, and combined. The participants three times per week over a twelve-week period. At the end of the study, researchers noted that the participants in all three groups experienced a lessening of triglycerides (fats in the blood attributed to hardening arteries and Type 2 diabetes) and a lessening of fat around the waist. The most significant improvements appeared in the group participating in combined exercise. While this result may have seemed apparent before testing, it reinforces the fact that water-based exercise offers benefits that one cannot get from traditional exercise alone.
Water Exercise and Hypertension
Exercise is the best natural remedy for high blood pressure (hypertension). It strengthens the heart; therefore, it requires less effort to pump blood through the body. Researchers at Tehran University sought to understand the effects of water exercise on patients with hypertension. Forty men were divided into a participant and control group. Participants exercised in water for 55 minutes, three days a week, for ten weeks, while the control group did not exercise. At the end of the study, researchers observed that the participants experienced a significant drop in resting blood pressure. They recommended a similar exercise program for obese patients and the elderly with musculoskeletal issues or suffer from bronchospasms (wheezing).