According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the fastest growing exercise population in the country is 55 and older and in ten years the fastest growing exercise group will be 85 and older. Nearly 40 % (39.5) of middle-aged adults, defined as 40-55, are classified as obese and that an additional 29.1 % of adults were classified as overweight* That is over two-thirds of the adult population of the United States and 40% of the group currently defined as the fastest growing exercise population, not just overweight, obese. The 60 and up group are not far behind, 35.4% are obese.
I am not going to get into all the medical considerations and health care costs, I want to talk about something much nearer and dearer to my heart, aquatics, as in why are we still, as a colleague of mine so elegantly put it, still the bastard stepchild of the exercise world. There are major certifying organizations that don’t even offer an aqua track at their conferences. We are taking a deconditioned population, many with medical issues that require active management and slotting them into personal training, cardio classes, group weight lifting, etc. all in the name of improving our participants overall health.
Why Aquatic Exercise?
WHY are we recommending aqua exercise instead? Six weeks after our middle aged/senior clients have dropped out of the land based program because they are sore, or it’s too hard or whatever. Don’t get me wrong, I love the diversity of exercise modalities available to us today, both for ourselves and our clients, but we should be putting them in the pool! All of the exercise modalities that are available on land are available in the water, with much less risk to our participants and proven strength, cardiac, pulmonary and balance building benefits. If elite athletics rehab in the pool,** why not our at-risk clients?
Benefits of Pool Exercises Over Land Exercises
We know that water exercise is easier on the joints than exercise on land, a crucial consideration for our overweight clients. It provides 800 times the resistance of air, provides similar strength benefits*** superior pulmonary benefits**** and is excellent cardiovascular exercise. The pool is the single most expensive piece of exercise equipment in any club or assisted living facility and one of the safest. Let’s face it if you fall in the pool, your hair gets wet; it is highly unlikely you will injure yourself, a very real consideration in land-based classes.
Pushing Aquatic Exercise into the Forefront
There is a wealth of aquatic programming available from Poolates® to Water in Motion® to Hydro YoChi® to AcquaPole®, yet when deconditioned clients present themselves to a club to “lose weight and get in shape” they are not being offered aquatics as a viable path to fitness, even when it is available. How do we change this? This is not a rhetorical question. We know that aquatic exercise is the best bet for many of our clients and should be the exercise of choice. How do we push aquatics to the forefront of the exercise industry? Shoot any ideas over to the Poolates® Facebook page. I am looking forward to hearing from all of you!
*Ogden CL. Carrol MD, Kit BK Flegal KM Prevealence of Obesity among Adults United States 2011-2012 NCHS Data brief 131 2013
** Experience Life
*** Len Kravitz Ph.D. JJ Mayo Ph.D. Physiological Effects of Aquatic Exercise
**** Andrea Salzman PT MS