Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • September 2016
Written by 

Aquatic exercise: The benefits of making waves

Meet Mauree

When Mauree woke up on May 14, 2013, she was planning to go to kickboxing class. But when she tried to get out of bed, she realized she had no feeling in her legs.

Mauree was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis, a rare neuro-immune disorder. Mauree explains it as a type of injury where her brain was unable to communicate with the nerves in her legs due to an inflammation in her spinal cord. She was paralyzed from the waist down. After 10 weeks in the hospital and a rehab facility, Mauree went home using a wheelchair.

Mauree’s physical therapist suggested looking into aquatic exercise to help with her recovery process. I first started working with Mauree at the Aquatic Center at CP in September of 2013. I completed an evaluation of Mauree, developed exercises and started working with her one on one every week. When Mauree first started, she wasn’t able to stand up in the water. But now, she can stand on her own without having to hold on to anything and she has started taking additional classes to help build strength and balance. Out of the water, Mauree is able to walk with the use of canes or a special walker and her continued progress with walking in the pool has carried over into increased independence in her daily life.

While Mauree’s story is somewhat unique, it does illustrate how aquatic exercise can be beneficial as part of a recovery or rehabilitation plan for issues like arthritis, hip or knee replacement, fibromyalgia or neuromuscular disorders. But let’s not forget that getting in the water is also a great way to maintain your overall health as well.

Benefits of aquatic exercise

Aquatic exercise provides many health benefits while being gentle on our joints and body, and is a great way to be proactive toward maintaining your health. Aquatic exercise can help improve muscle strength and balance, elevate your heart rate, increase endurance, provide greater joint flexibility, reduce pain and fatigue and can even help you sleep better. The pool is also a great way for many adults to slow down the loss of muscle that can occur as we age.

In addition, aquatic exercise is not as intimidating as other forms of exercise. For many — especially older adults — the thought of getting into an exercise routine can be daunting. They are worried about coordination, suffering an injury or just getting their body to do what they want it to do. Aquatic exercise is low impact, which makes people feel safe and comfortable while still being challenged, be it through group classes, independent exercise or one-on-one time with an instructor.

But perhaps the most unexpected benefit many people see is that aquatic exercise provides an important connection. Participating in a weekly class provides the opportunity for people to become more connected with others, and many find that the added energy aquatic exercise brings helps get them out into the community more often and engage in activities they may not have had the confidence to do before.

Jump on in!

If you have been looking for a way to get more active but haven’t quite found your niche, or are looking for something new, give aquatic exercise a try. It’s a great way to maintain and improve your health while providing lots of fun options to keep it exciting and challenging. It’s a good form of exercise for people at just about any fitness level and there are many places in our area that provide classes. You just need to find the class or program that makes the right “splash” for you.

Bonnie Murry

Bonnie Murray is a Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, certified in Adaptive Aquatics Interventions with multi-disabilities. She’s been at the Aquatic Center at CP since 2012 and works with patrons with neuromuscular disorders, post-trauma rehabilitation needs, pain management and personal fitness goals.

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