Water: A Natural Path to Slowing the Aging Process
For most people, the thought of getting older includes visions of decreasing abilities. Most individuals expect to lose muscle mass, balance and function as the years tick by. However, science shows that while we can’t reverse aging, we can slow it down with natural solutions – specifically, water.
Water is one of the most abundant compounds on earth, and its restorative and healing properties have been well-known for generations. Not only is water necessary for life, but it can also be an excellent modality for exercise, rehabilitation and wellness. Two of water’s natural properties found in water – hydrostatic pressure and buoyancy – are powerful weapons against sarcopenia, the breakdown of muscle that occurs over time.
Why Sarcopenia Happens and How to Stop Its Progression
The human body isn’t made to work at peak performance forever, which is why muscles gradually begin to deteriorate. As we enter each new decade of life, we tend to experience more muscle fatigue and notice that we have to work a little harder to maintain fitness levels. Though this can be anticipated, what might surprise many men and women is that after age 65, muscle loss becomes more obvious and potentially risky without intervention. Some sources suggest that humans lose about 3-5 percent of their muscle mass each year, and that breakdown begins to be very noticeable by the time we’re entering retirement age.
Fortunately, treatment methods are available to reduce sarcopenia, and one of the more painless and injury-free ways is through aquatic therapy and exercise. Rehabilitation sessions and workouts in an underwater environment with a variable depth treadmill floor have been shown to significantly lower the speed at which muscle loss occurs. Why? There are a few reasons:
- People with balance issues are less apprehensive about rehabbing or working out in the water. If they fall, the buoyancy keeps them afloat. This encourages them to take initiative when working the muscles, joints and ligaments. When fear is eliminated, they can progress much further than they might on land.
- Most therapy pools are filled with warm water that hovers in the 90-degree range. The warmth surrounds the body and provides a calming, relaxing and massaging atmosphere in which to exercise. In turn, the individual is willing to work longer, making the muscles work harder-without incurring discomfort.
- One of the hardest things to do for those with swollen hands, feet, joints and other body parts is to move freely. This is where water’s hydrostatic pressure comes into play. The water acts like a compression device, reducing edema. Without the interference of swelling, it’s easier to challenge the muscles.
Over time, working out in water with a trained professional can make a huge difference in slowing the rate of sarcopenia, which translates to better quality of life outside of the therapy pool.
Energy Is Waiting in the Water for Every Age Group
Having more muscle mass leads to higher confidence and more independence, which carries over into energy for everyday activities. If you’re interested in finding out how you can help the clients you serve start to change the way they feel about their bodies, daily routines and perhaps even self-esteem, we invite you to download our free tip sheet on the subject. Not only will you find fascinating statistics, but you’ll also be introduced to proven underwater exercises that work for people of all ages.