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Aquatics

Aquatic exercise classes (also called aquatics or water aerobics) are typically done in waist-deep or deeper water, without swimming. All classes offer a very low-impact workout and deep-water classes are non-impact because you wear a flotation device and your feet do not touch the bottom. Most classes are conducted in a group setting with a trained professional teaching. The Arthritis Resource Finder can help you locate a class in your area. There are many types of water classes, some that focus on just range of motion with gentle stretching and some that offer very intense aerobic conditioning and resistance training. Choose the aquatic class that matches your current fitness level and goals. Many classes use such equipment as water dumbbells, noodles, swim gloves, resistance tubing with handles, bar floats, flotation belts, water ankle cuffs, kick boards, pull buoys and many more.

Modifications

Specific modifications will depend on your joints affected, but you may consider the following.

  • Removing a wet swimsuit can be difficult. Special suits that wrap around or use Velcro are available.
  • For water walking and jogging, use a normal heel-to-toe progression. Do not walk or run while up on your toes.
  • Performing exercises or using a kickboard with the arms out straight can be modified by bringing your arms closer in to your body.

Tips

  • Water classes are essentially non-weight bearing. You will need to incorporate weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, into your fitness routine to promote bone health.
  • A warmer pool is usually more comfortable than a cool pool for people with arthritis. A warm-water pool temperature of 83–90°F is recommended.

Progression

  • Begin class without the use of resistance equipment and then add these as you tolerate them; a foam noodle or kickboard can provide balance assistance if needed.
  • Begin with fewer exercise repetitions and gradually increase as you are able.

This is general aquatics information. Get personalized results, with specific modifications and tips customized to your problem joints and level of fitness.