Skip to content Skip to navigation

Water rehabilitation

June 1, 2010
by Cory Forrest
| Reprints
Breathing new life into LTC fitness programs

At a glance…

The idea behind aquatic fitness equipment is to make rehabilitation easier by duplicating the exercise movements in water, but with better control of repetitive impact, resistance, and range of motion.

Traditional rehabilitation programs are hitting the pool with aquatic fitness equipment, a new category of water-based exercise equipment that combines the best features of both land- and water-based exercise. Long-term care facilities are incorporating aquatic fitness equipment into new programs and classes with great results.

Long-term care facilities are using their pools to provide water-based rehabilitation without costly refurbishment or new construction. Aquatic fitness equipment is designed to transform any swimming pool over 3.6 ft. (1.1 meters) deep into a zero-impact gym.

Made for use in chlorinated water, the aquatic fitness equipment provides balanced rehabilitation that improves fitness, strength, flexibility, and aerobic training. Pools can easily interchange the units to create a specific fitness circuit for instructor-led classes or other fitness programs.

Land-based difficult

At long-term care facilities, physical rehabilitation can be difficult with typical land-based exercises, since patients can be required to bear their body weight in compromising positions with restricted movement as a result of injury. The idea behind aquatic fitness equipment is to make rehabilitation easier by duplicating the exercise movements in water, but with better control of repetitive impact, resistance, and range of motion.

Due to water's buoyancy, or ability to float objects, those who exercise in water place much less weight and impact on their joints, bones, and muscles. Immersing yourself in chest-deep water can negate 70% of your weight. This helps people exercise longer, more comfortably, and with greater aerobic benefit. The hydrostatic pressure of water helps blood circulation and decrease swelling, resulting in an increased range of motion.

Because of water's buoyancy, or ability to float objects, those who exercise in water place much less weight and impact on their joints, bones, and muscles.

Natural resistance

In land-based exercise, where there's usually only one direction of resistance, it's easy to overuse some muscles and underuse others. Water's natural resistance provides a safe, even resistance for those exercising in it, improving balance and strength in all muscle directions.

“Since being diagnosed with osteoporosis and being involved in a car accident, I found even walking very painful,” says Lorna Hickman, an aquatic fitness equipment user from Suffolk, England. “I was looking for an exercise routine to build strength but not cause more discomfort. My doctor referred me to the aquatic fitness equipment and I have never looked back. I use it twice weekly and the benefits have been tremendous. I feel so much better.”

Like Lorna Hickman, many individuals choose not to participate in traditional rehabilitation programs because of repetitive shock, stress on joints, and other issues. Aquatic fitness equipment provides a welcome alternative that's beneficial for users of all ages, fitness, and swim levels.

Cory Forrest is a product line manager with Waterplay Solutions Corp., in Kelowna, B.C., Canada. He is responsible for product line life cycles, from initial strategic planning through product specification. He travels extensively throughout North America conducting educational seminars and training on-site personnel. He can be reached via e-mail at

cory.forrest@waterplay.com.

To send your comments to the editor, please e-mail mhrehocik@vendomegrp.com.

Long-Term Living 2010 June;59(6):40-41

Topics