Water exercise for arthritis

Some water exercise programs were created just for people with arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation and other organizations offer special aquatic classes taught by certified instructors, which you can take a few times a week. The advantage to these programs is that they’re designed for all fitness levels, and they include exercises that are perfectly suited to people with sore joints.

Walk in water
Walking is great exercise, but when you do it in the water, it puts almost no impact on your joints. Because water exerts 12 times more resistance than air, walking in water will give you an even better workout than walking on land.

To walk in water, use the same technique you do on the street — heel to toe. To increase the intensity, hold light weights. If you’re going to walk in deep water, put on a flotation belt for safety.

How warm should you go?
Many people with arthritis find warm water soothing to their joints, but you don’t want the water to be too hot. A temperature of 83°F (28°C) to 88°F (31°C) is just right for exercise: It’s comfortable, without making you sweat too much.
If you’re exercising or sitting in a hot tub, make sure the temperature isn’t any higher than 104°F (40°C). And get out of the water after 10 to 15 minutes.

How to get started

Before starting any new water workout, ask your doctor if it’s safe for you. Also, ask if you should avoid any specific exercises or movements. At the beginning of a workout, start with a few easy stretches after a light 5- to 10-minute walk to warm up your body. Move through each movement completely but gently so you don’t put stress on your joints.

If any exercise hurts, or if you feel dizzy or out of breath, stop exercising right away.