What Is Aqua Therapy And How Does It Benefit Seniors?

Sunrise Senior Living  |  July 12, 2022
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Engaging in regular fitness activities is essential for healthy aging. Experts say people should create weekly routines that incorporate a combination of stretching, strength training, and aerobic exercises. One form of fitness that combines all three of those is aqua therapy.

The gravity-free environment of a warm pool has well-documented benefits. It’s good for the body, mind, and spirit. Let’s take a look at what aqua therapy is, what the benefits are, and some of the best exercises you can perform in the pool.

What Is Aqua Therapy and How Does It Benefit Seniors?

Aqua therapy, also known as hydrotherapy, is actually a form of physical therapy. Exercises are generally performed in a pool that is heated to 83 to 88 degrees. It’s a good form of fitness for people of all ages. Aqua therapy is especially beneficial for seniors who live with chronic health conditions that make exercise painful or for those recovering from an injury or surgery.

Here are some of the many benefits of working out in a pool:

  • Reduces all impact on weight-bearing joints
  • Stabilizes the body with no risk of falling
  • Builds strength, flexibility, and endurance
  • Helps decrease stress and increase relaxation
  • Increases cardiovascular health
  • Improves range of motion and balance

While many older adults work with a physical therapist to develop a fitness program, some fitness centers and senior living communities have team members who teach a variety of pool-based classes.

At The Quadrangle in Pennsylvania, for example, Sunrise residents have an on-site, indoor swimming pool and a hydrotherapy pool with a full-time fitness director. The Fairfax at Belvoir Woods in Northern Virginia also is home to a heated indoor swimming pool complete with locker rooms for residents. Communities like Sunrise of Newton in Massachusetts, on the other hand, don’t have a pool on site but are located 0.2 miles from the West Suburban YMCA which has a pool and offers a membership discount to Sunrise residents.

Pool Exercises for Older Adults

So, what are some of the best types of fitness activities for seniors to do in a heated pool? While it’s always best to talk with your primary care physician for specific advice, here are a few ideas to consider:

  1. Marching in place or from one side of the pool to the other
  2. Flutter kicking as you hold on to the side of the pool
  3. Water aerobics, such as these routines created by LiveStrong
  4. Weight training exercises using aquatic dumbbells
  5. Jumping jacks with water resistance to build stamina
  6. Squats as you hold on to the side of the pool or railing

Safety Tips for Senior Swimmers

While most forms of water therapy don’t require people to know how to swim, there are some precautions you will need to take:

  • Never swim or do water exercises alone
  • Consider wearing goggles to protect your eyes
  • Layer on sunscreen when exercising in an outdoor pool
  • Drink lots of water as you workout
  • Pace yourself and don’t overdo it

Sunrise Senior Living Amenities

Sunrise communities are known for offering residents a rich variety of services and amenities. Depending on the individual community, you’ll find everything from concierge services to game rooms, fitness centers, and indoor pools. Call 888-434-4648 today to learn more about the communities near you, and to schedule a time for a private tour!

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