Aquatic therapy for seniors consists of exercises and stretches performed in water for relaxation, fitness, physical rehabilitation, and other therapeutic benefits. The specific properties of water make aquatic therapy much different from traditional physical therapy, because you can use water for resistance in place of gravity or weights.
Read how buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure, and hydrodynamics combine to make aquatic therapy so effective, and learn how you can benefit from the power of water at Westminster Village.
Buoyancy Provides Support for Older Adults Afraid to Fall
Buoyancy is by far the most beneficial property of water when it comes to aquatic therapy for seniors. The upward force minimizes the effects of gravity and provides essential support for older adults who are afraid to fall – a fear that stops many people from embracing a more active lifestyle, especially if they’ve already suffered an injury from a previous fall.
Here are other benefits of buoyancy that can help older adults in rehabilitation:
Better mobility. Buoyancy combined with warm water relaxes muscles and relieves pressure on your joints, which relieves pain and gives your body the benefit of getting physical activity with less stress. This is especially beneficial for those recovering from surgery or managing symptoms of arthritis.
Increased strength and balance. You can control movements at your own pace with buoyancy, while also facing more resistance from water than you would air. This gives older adults the opportunity to focus on keeping their balance and increase their strength at the same time.
Supported gait. Many people experience weakness, partial paralysis, and an altered gait after a stroke, which makes it difficult to walk and stand. Water’s buoyancy makes it easier to stand and move with less effort. Even better, aquatic therapy has been shown to have more positive effects on mood, pain, and quality of life for people who have had a stroke compared to other therapies on land.
Feeling of relaxation. Recovering from a surgery or injury can be stressful. Relaxing in warm water has been shown to activate your parasympathetic nervous system and decrease activity in your sympathetic nervous system. This can cause a lower resting heart rate and overall feeling of relaxation.
Westminster Village features our Live Well Fitness & Rehab Center, which includes a delightfully warm therapy pool and a sparkling lap/aerobics pool, both with stairs and elevators for easy access. We even offer open swim times for families and feature locker rooms with private showers and swimsuit dryers.
Hydrostatic Pressure Offers Incredible Health Benefits
One of the primary reasons aquatic therapy for seniors is so effective is hydrostatic pressure, which is something you can’t experience with traditional physical therapy techniques performed on land.
Hydrostatic pressure occurs when your body is immersed in water. It results from a combination of Archimedes’ law (buoyancy) and Pascal’s law, which dictates pressure at a certain depth of immersion will be equal in all body parts immersed at that level.
These are just a few benefits seniors can receive from hydrostatic pressure:
Improved blood flow. Hydrostatic pressure promotes blood flow by adjusting the pressure exerted on your body according to the depth of immersion, which results in improved blood flow to major organs, including your heart, brain and lungs.
Increased breathing capacity. When a person is submerged up to their neck in water, hydrostatic pressure applies constant resistance to the chest wall. It forces them to release more air than usual and helps the chest wall work more efficiently when exercising out of the water. Hydrostatic pressure can help seniors who need to work on increasing lung capacity, such as those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders (COPD).
Reduced swelling. Hydrostatic pressure also acts like a full-body support hosiery during aquatic therapy, which makes it especially beneficial for seniors who have excessive edema or swelling in certain areas. When you compare the amount of pressure from a TED (thromboembolism-deterrent) stocking with what you get from water, hydrostatic pressure applies greater compression.
Decreased soreness. Hydrostatic pressure helps move lactic acid more efficiently to your liver, which reduces soreness from physical activity. This benefits people of all ages, but is especially beneficial to seniors who are already managing chronic pain, because it means they can work out for longer without worrying about sore muscles adding to daily aches and pain.
Hydrodynamics Makes It Easier for Seniors to Build Strength
An aquatic environment is considered an extremely safe and efficient place for resistance training. This is largely because of buoyancy combined with hydrodynamics, another important concept in aquatic therapy for seniors.
Hydrodynamics is the force created when moving through water causes resistance against your body. By increasing the speed of movement, the resistance of the water becomes greater. The harder you push against water, the harder water pushes back.
However, you won’t need to worry about resistance causing you to lose your balance as you would with resistance training on land. This concept makes exercise in water a safe alternative to resistance training on land.
Feel Stronger Than Ever at Westminster Village
Our Live Well Fitness & Rehab Center makes working on your wellness and maintaining an active lifestyle convenient. From aquatics to senior-friendly circuit strength training, you’ll find abundant ways to reach your goals and feel stronger than ever. Contact our team online or call us at 765-463-7546 to arrange a complimentary personal tour of our senior living community. We’d love to show you around!