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Your UCP: National August 25, 2003
Sports & Leisure

Exercise & Fitness

Aquatic Therapy

Aquatic therapy is an excellent therapeutic low impact activity for individuals of all abilities. Aquatic therapy activities can be done in either indoor or outdoor pool facilities and consist of cardiovascular endurance and conditioning exercises. These include walking, jogging, jumping, swimming, kicking, and other continuous rhythmic activities that elevate metabolism and improve cardiovascular function.

Benefits of Aquatic Therapy

  • Improves muscle tone and strength.
  • Improves endurance.
  • Increases cardiovascular function.
  • Improves self esteem.
  • Reduction in gravitational force provides therapeutic benefits.
  • Provides psychological benefits.
  • Overall improvement in quality of life.
  • Increased circulation, endurance, flexibility, range of motion, balance, and coordination.


Noodles Flotation device

  • Acts as support for the spine or extremity that may be weakened due to disease, injury, surgery, or immobilization.
  • Makes it possible for people to achieve a position of comfort for exercise not possible on land.
  • Flotation devices and "noodles" (pictured above) help individuals with disabilities maintain buoyancy.
  • Photo of a man doing shallow water walking on a treadmill

Benefits of Shallow Water Walking

  • Increased metabolism and strength.
  • Reduction of muscles that have atrophied due to injury, illness, or general use.
  • Improved balance and coordination.
  • Recreation and socialization.
  • Water walking requires no swimming ability, which makes it possible for non-swimmers to participate.

Benefits of Deep Water Running

Underwater photo in profile of a person deep water running

  • Reduction in force to joints makes this activity mostly pain free.
  • Mainly used for back rehabilitation programs to develop muscular and cardiovascular endurance.

Benefits of Hydrostatic Pressure

  • Helps reduce blood pressure in those with hypertension while exercising in the water due to the effects of hydrostatic pressure.
  • Edema of lower extremities is relieved during physical activity in water.
  • Aquatic therapy also has been shown to reduce levels of spasticity among individuals undergoing rehabilitation.


Composite photo of floatation devices, including bars, vests, and head float

There are several flotation devices such as bars, noodles, vests, and head floats available for individuals of all abilities for participation in aquatic physical activity.

Aquatic Therapy Products

(Additional information on this topic may be available by searching the NCPAD database using the keywords aquatic therapy or aquatic equipment)

Adolf Kiefer and Associates, (800) 323-4071

AquaStyle, (800) 776-1617

Danmar Products, (800) 783-1998

Hydro-Fit, (800) 346-7295

Ferno, (800) 733-3766

The Hygenic Corporation/Theraband, (800) 321-2135

Sprint-Rothhammer, (800)235-2156


Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), (800) 446-2322

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM, (317) 637-9200

Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA), (888) 232-9283

Aquatic Therapy and Rehab Institute (ATRI), (906) 482-9500


Aquatic Exercise Toolbox
by Adams, Norton & Tilden

Aquatic Therapy Programming: Guidelines for Orthopedic Rehabilitation
by Joanne M. Koury

Adapted Aquatics Programming: A Professional Guide
by Lepore, Gayle & Stevens

Human Kinetics, (800) 747-4457

The information provided here is offered as a service only. The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability, University of Illinois at Chicago, the National Center on Accessibility, and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago do not formally recommend or endorse the equipment listed. As with any products or services, consumers should investigate and determine on their own which equipment best fits their needs and budget.

Source: NCPAD

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