In the swim

Exercising in water offers many benefits to people who are recovering from injury or living with a range of conditions, from mild to chronic. As well as its abilities to calm, relax and ease pain, water also supports our body weight reducing stress on joints.

Hydrotherapy benefits

older person swimming

“People are often surprised at what they can do in the water; when weight is dispersed across the body, it is so much easier. This means water exercise is a lot more suitable for those living with a range of chronic conditions such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS) and fibromyalgia,” said ACH Group Exercise Physiologist Daniel Peacock.

Daniel, who runs hydrotherapy and water exercise classes across ACH Group’s health sites, said water exercise is an ideal way to stay active for any age group.

Exercising in water

“By simply walking or moving in the water, you activate a range of muscles. For people who have found exercising on land too challenging or painful,

it can be great for confidence, giving people that little bit of hope and helping them in their recovery.”

Hydrotherapy is modifiable and exercises can be prescribed and adapted according to an individual’s goals or needs. Instructors are in the pool with the class to ensure exercises are done properly.

As well as building strength, water exercise can help people lose weight, manage pain and improve cardiovascular health or lung function, balance and mobility.

“Besides the physical health benefits, there are a range of mental health benefits from mood modification, a reduction in stress and anxiety, and improvements in sleep.”

Like any exercise, it’s always best to start slowly and not overdo it.

“One of the key things we tell people is not to go too hard in the first two weeks because when you’re in the water, you’ll feel great, and feel less pain, but you’ll feel it the next day when you’re out of the pool.”

Daniel has witnessed many ‘good news stories’ as a result of hydrotherapy including a customer who started classes as part of her recovery from a car accident.

“This customer was having trouble walking and struggled to get into the pool – now the steps are no problem and her walking is almost back to what it used to be,” he says.

Water wise

Lap swimming is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise and can contribute to the recommended 150 minutes moderate to vigorous activity per week for those aged 65 plus.

Water is about 50 times thicker than air and supports our body weight. Swimming in water can require four to six times more energy.

All ACH Group hydrotherapy pools are heated at 30 to 34 degrees Celsius and have hand rails for customers who are less confident in the water.

Water exercise provides an excellent alternative to land exercise for older people with the same cardiovascular, strength, balance and mobility benefits.

Project to create dementia-friendly pools

ACH Group is leading a project that aims to create dementia-friendly swimming experiences and environments.

Funded by a grant from Dementia Australia, the project has enlisted the help of people living with dementia, their carers, family and care workers, along with people who work at swimming pools, to find out what changes could be made that make swimming easier and more accessible for all.

Project Coordinator Fiona Telford-Sharp says online surveys and face-to-face interviews helped shape a series of fact sheets for swimming pool venues, swimming coaches, people living with dementia and their families.

“We know that swimming offers many health benefits and we recognised the need to raise awareness of the needs of people living with dementia and to take steps to create a welcoming and safe environment for all swimmers.”

To find a hydrotherapy or water exercise class near you call 1300 22 44 77.