Arthritis Exercise for the Pool

Wednesday, February 24 2021

Yes, this workout is designed with arthritis exercises and yes, it is lower intensity.  Does that mean you should skip if you don’t have arthritis or you only want high intensity exercise?  No.  Consider this workout in the same way that you would consider yoga or stretching. Maintaining flexibility and range of motion in your joints is just as important as doing so in your muscles. 

The human body is largely made up of synovial joints, which are joints where the bones are connected.  Synovial fluid is found in the cavity of synovial joints. Exercise moves that synovial fluid around the joint cavity and keeps the joint supple.  Lack of movement prevents that synovial fluid from dispersing and lubricating the joint.  Without movement and lubrication, the joint loses function over time and becomes stiffer and more prone to injury and inflammation.  Inflammation translates into pain.  Daily activities are not enough to move a joint through its full range of motion to maintain optimal elasticity.  This is what well planned exercise is designed to achieve. 

My goal was to include as many Arthritis Foundation (AF) exercises into an Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program (AFAP) as possible in order to prove to instructors how easy it is to prepare an arthritis exercise class.  The end-result for a PoolFit subscriber is a gentle shallow water workout that leaves no joint untouched.  Arthritis exercises are specifically designed to move all of the body’s joints through their full range of motion, including jaw, cervical spine, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, lumbar spine, hip, knee, ankle and toes.  Think of this routine as a total body tune-up for your joints. 

The Arthritis Spectrum
There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions. People of all ages, sexes and races can and do have arthritis, and it is the leading cause of disability in America. More than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have some type of arthritis. It is most common among women and occurs more frequently as people get older. Keep in mind, there are a myriad of fitness levels on the arthritis spectrum and this workout may be too strenuous for someone with debilitating symptoms, or not challenging enough for someone with a mild diagnosis

Genetics, obesity, diet, injury and lack of exercise can all contribute to arthritis.  Suffice to say, lack of movement and a sedentary lifestyle are one of the leading causes of arthritis as people age.  Therefore, exercise is universally recommended for people who suffer from arthritis or want to prevent it.  Watch Mark talk more about arthritis treatment and prevention. 

The Lesson Plan
Well planned exercise for joint health is best achieved when you have a lesson plan.  Designed to deliver results, an AFAP lesson plan as demonstrated in the Water Exercise for Arthritis video features essential class components that include Flexibility & Range of Motion, Cardiorespiratory Endurance, Muscular Strength & Endurance and Balance & Coordination.   A balanced class with all of the essential components will provide optimal benefits for participants while following recommendations from the Arthritis Foundation.  Optional activities can be included in an AFAP lesson plan.  In the video, a short segment that targets core training is included as an optional activity.

Maintaining Regular Exercise
Listen to your body and learn to be flexible with your exercise activities, depending on how you feel on a given day.  Don’t force high intensity exercise when you are tired, sore or not feeling well.  Choose a lower intensity activity instead, such as one of the stretching videos or this video for joint health.  Embrace the belief that all movement and activity is beneficial and that it is okay to give yourself permission to change exercise plans on any given day.  Avoid locking yourself into a rigid fitness schedule.  Watch Mark talk more about intuitive fitness and owning the exercise experience.

Water Exercise for Arthritis is an ideal workout for when you want to dial back on intensity and focus more on joint range of motion flexibility.  Also consider this workout when you are recovering from injury or sickness.  However, you choose to use this workout I hope that you embrace the importance of maintaining healthy joints. 

Author: Mark Grevelding is the founder of Fitmotivation. He is also a training specialist and consultant with the Aquatic Exercise Association’s (AEA). Mark has been active in the fitness industry for 22 years as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, international presenter and a continuing education provider for AEA, AFAA & ACE.