Diving In: Water Exercises for Arthritis Relief

Diving In: Water Exercises for Arthritis Relief

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  • Why Exercise with Arthritis?

    Why Exercise with Arthritis?

    National government guidelines call for adults to get 2 hours and 30 minutes of aerobic activity—like a fast walk or bike ride—each week. Exercise helps keep your body in shape, and it’s especially important when you have arthritis.

    Carrying around excess weight can place added stress on your joints. And staying active has proven benefits for people with arthritis, including reduced pain and improved flexibility.

  • How to Exercise When You’re Sore

    How to Exercise When You’re Sore

    Exercise is a win-win for arthritis—provided that you do it. A study published in Arthritis & Rheumatology found that very few people with arthritis get the recommended amount of exercise each week.

    That’s understandable—it can be hard to lift weights or run on a treadmill when your joints are sore and stiff. If you’re struggling with exercise because of arthritis, try an exercise program that’s ideal for sore joints: a water workout.

  • Why Choose Water Exercise?

    Why Choose Water Exercise?

    There are many reasons why a water exercise program is a good choice if have arthritis. Here are three good ones:

    1. Water is buoyant. It supports your body so your joints don’t have to work as hard.
    2. If you exercise in a heated pool, you’ll get the added benefit of warmth, which helps soothe sore joints.
    3. Water creates a natural resistance when you move your body through it, giving your muscles a good workout without the need for weights.
  • Take a Swim

    Take a Swim

    When it comes to exercising in water, you have a few different options. The most obvious form of water exercise is swimming laps, which is a great workout. If you can swim laps for a whole hour, you’ll burn more than 470 calories.

    But don’t dive in on your first try expecting to do a marathon swim. Start with just one or two laps and gradually build up your endurance. Rest in between laps to restore your energy.


  • Try a Water Aerobics Class

    Try a Water Aerobics Class

    Another option is to take a water aerobics class at your local gym, YMCA, or senior center. Exercising with a group is motivating, and will give you the chance to socialize.

    Many gyms now offer water exercise classes, including aquatic versions of yoga, Zumba, tai chi, and Pilates. If you’re just getting started, choose something basic like yoga or tai chi. If you’re an expert exerciser, you can take a higher intensity aerobics class.


  • Water Exercise for Arthritis

    Water Exercise for Arthritis

    Some water exercise programs were created just for people with arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation and other organizations offer special aquatic classes taught by certified instructors, which you can take a few times a week. The advantage to these programs is that they’re designed for all fitness levels, and they include exercises that are perfectly suited to people with sore joints.

  • Walk in Water

    Walk in Water

    Walking is great exercise, but when you do it in the water, it puts almost no impact on your joints. Because water exerts 12 times more resistance than air, walking in water will give you an even better workout than walking on land.

    To walk in water, use the same technique you do on the street—heel to toe. To increase the intensity, hold light weights. If you’re going to walk in deep water, put on a flotation belt for safety.

  • How Warm Should You Go?

    How Warm Should You Go?

    Many people with arthritis find warm water soothing to their joints, but you don’t want the water to be too hot. A temperature of 83 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit is just right for exercise: it’s comfortable, without making you sweat too much.

    If you’re exercising or sitting in a hot tub, make sure the temperature isn’t any higher than 104 degrees. And get out of the water after 10 to 15 minutes.

  • Getting Started

    Getting Started

    Before starting any new water workout, ask your doctor if it’s safe for you. Also, ask if you should avoid any specific exercises or movements.

    At the beginning of a workout, start with a few easy stretches to warm up your body. Move through each movement completely but gently so you don’t put stress on your joints.

    If any exercise hurts, or if you feel dizzy or out of breath, stop exercising right away.