Deep Water Arthritis Exercise

Wednesday, February 17 2021

Created with exercises from AEA’s Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program, Deep Revive was designed with intuitive fitness in mind. This deep-water program can be done at a lower intensity for joint mobility and stretching, or with more vigor as an aerobic workout.  Either way, it will leave you feeling more limber, energized and rejuvenated. 

Exercises from AEA’s Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program can and should be included in all fitness classes.  I don’t teach arthritis specific programs, but I have been including the exercises in my classes for years.  Why?  Arthritis exercises are designed to move a joint through its full range of motion.  In the fitness industry, this type of exercise is more popularly referred to as functional training.  Arthritis exercise and functional training are similar in that that both are designed to prepare the body for real-life movements by including exercises that move the body in all directions and angles.  The main difference is that arthritis exercise is used to improve activities of daily living, while functional training is often used to enhance sports performance.  

Arthritis Treatment & Prevention:  What can you do?
Whether you currently suffer from arthritis or just want to maintain healthy joints, almost all research provides similar recommendations, including eating a proper diet and maintaining a healthy weight.  Being overweight places extra strain on the weight-bearing joints, such as the knees, ankles, hips, and back. According to the Arthritis Foundation, every pound of excess weight you carry results in an additional four pounds of extra pressure on your weight-bearing joints.  Also important is the need to protect joints in daily activities and sports.  Injuries are a leading cause of osteoarthritis.  However, the most important recommendation for arthritis treatment and prevention is exercise. Movement is essential for healthy joint function.  As people age, they become more sedentary.   This why osteoarthritis tends to develop in people over the age of 60.  Watch Mark talk more about maintaining joint health.

Joint Health 101
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 these 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 this lubrication, the joint loses elasticity over time and becomes stiffer and more prone to injury and inflammation.  Daily activities are simply not enough to move a joint through its full range of motion for optimal lubrication.  This is what well planned exercise is designed to achieve. 

Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program (AFAP)
The Category 1 exercises in the AFAP are specifically designed to move a joint through its full range of motion. The exercises are categorized by the major joints of the body, including Jaw & Neck, Shoulder & Elbow, Wrist & Fingers, Trunk, Hip & Knee, Ankle & Toes.  Deep Revive includes many exercises from Category 1, as well as exercises from Category 2, which includes cardiorespiratory endurance and optional deep water.   Including AFAP exercises into water fitness programs, whether they are high intensity or mind & body, simply makes them more results-oriented because all of the joints get moved through their full range of motion.  For more information on maintaining joint health, be sure to bookmark AEA’s Better Health, which features articles dedicated to healthy aging.    

Intuitive Fitness
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, such as walking, yoga or stretching.  The “no pain, no gain” overzealous approach to an exercise regimen is often the reason why people ultimately fail to stick with a fitness program.  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

Own the Workout
Likewise, listen to your body when you are following along with exercise videos or classes. Don’t feel like you have to do everything the fitness instructor is doing. That instructor has no idea what your health history is.  If an exercise doesn’t feel right or causes discomfort, you need to modify or change the movement.  Don’t wait for the fitness instructor to provide you with a modification, make your own. 

Deep Revive is an ideal workout for when you want to dial back on intensity and focus more on joint mobility and muscular flexibility.  But you can also perform this deep water workout with more vigor for a total body aerobic workout.  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 honoring your body and 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.