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Exercising in water offers same benefits as land-based workouts

October 31, 2012

Exercising is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for seniors, but for many older adults osteoarthritis, or chronic pain, can make it difficult to work out. The results of a recent study should come as good news for those health-conscious seniors looking to take pressure off their aging joints, as researchers found aquatic exercise offers similar benefits to workouts on dry land.

The study, which was conducted by scientists from the Montreal Heart Institute, looked at what advantages adults were offered when they rode an immersible ergocycle, an underwater stationary bike.

Researchers found that participants who rode on both kinds of bicycles, enjoyed equal benefits from each exercise. In fact, the team noted that when it comes to oxygen and blood flow, working out in the water may actually be the better option.

"You pump more blood for each beat, so don't need as many heartbeats, because the pressure of the water on your legs and lower body makes the blood return more effectively to the heart. That's interesting data that hasn't been studied thoroughly before," said Dr. Martin Juneau, director of prevention at the Montreal Heart Institute.

The results are important because they provide yet another option for seniors to stay physically active as they get older, which offers a considerable amount of benefits regardless of what path they choose. Perhaps most significantly, exercise is one of the best ways for seniors to lower the risk of falls, according to the Mayo Clinic. Working out provides seniors with improved balance and strength, two critical components to staying upright and enjoying independent living.