If you could invent the perfect exercise for arthritis, it might let you strengthen your muscles without lifting weights, improve your flexibility without causing too much pain, and run and jump with no chance of falling.
If that sounds good to you, then take a dive into water workouts. According to the Arthritis Foundation and the American Physical Therapy Association, exercising in water can improve fitness while relieving arthritis pain and stiffness. Water exercise offers:
Plus, a heated swimming pool may offer warmth to improve your circulation.
On your mark, get set, splash!
Many swim centers, YMCAs and community pools offer water exercise classes tailored for people with arthritis. Most classes take place in the shallow end of the pool, so it's OK if you're not a strong swimmer. If you're just starting out, choose a class that matches your fitness level and goals.
Some classes might focus on gentle stretching and improving range of motion. Others provide a more vigorous aerobic workout. Chances are there's a good fit for you.
You can also try a simple exercise like water walking: In chest- or waist-high water, just walk forward and backward. When you're ready, increase the intensity by speeding up or mixing in gentle jogging intervals.
Get geared up
All you really need to start is a swimsuit. (Look for one that's easy to get on and off when dry or wet.) But you might find a few other items helpful as well:
Play it safe
Whatever watery workout you choose, make these safety steps a priority:
Water workouts can be a great addition to your arthritis care plan. Read more about creating a well-rounded, joint-friendly exercise routine.