Question: Do you recommend aqua aerobics for cancer patients?
Movement in a pool is inherently different from on land due to the properties of water. It provides buoyancy and the water supports us, aids movement and creates resistance when it comes to strengthening.
The effects of hydrostatic pressure in the water help reduce edema or swelling – even if you are just sitting on the steps in the pool. It’s like a mini-massage all the time … that’s why the waterwork is so beneficial for people with lymphedema.
Why is water such a valuable way of rehabilitation? We can use the water with all its great ramifications and powers. Since the water supports the body, it enables movements that would otherwise be impossible. This in turn increases the pain-free freedom of movement.
Another property of water that makes it beneficial for treatment is its resilience. Water is much more resilient than air. This resistance provides weak muscles with the necessary strength training. The increased freedom of movement and pain-free resistance allow patients to improve faster in the water than on land.
As part of an exercise program, the water fitness program reduces body fat, increases lean body mass, increases cardiovascular fitness, increases freedom of movement (especially with the chest and shoulders), prevents lymphedema, reduces stress, and ensures a whole body exercise.
The goals of the treatment are to relieve the pain by interrupting the pain-cramp-pain cycle through the relaxing effect of the water and creating a “whole” body feeling again. Fatigue is a common consequence of the illness and the side effect of some treatments. Aquagym allows you to do more than you would on land, increasing your energy levels and endurance.
Even if your range of motion, strength, and endurance are at levels that you are happy with, aqua aerobics is a great way to maintain your fitness level. One of the often overlooked elements of an aquatic fitness program is the ability to interact with and find support and connection with others who have similar experiences with cancer.
Advantages of water therapy: improves freedom of movement, increases muscle strength and torso stabilization, increases oxygen and calorie consumption, promotes balance and coordination, general relaxation, joint flexibility, promotes blood circulation, pain relief, joint distraction or relief, athletic improvement.
The cancer water program is structured like many water programs, but an essential focus is on strengthening the chest, shoulder and back muscles. A typical class may include a 10-minute warm-up that involves walking in waist-to-chest-deep water using a variety of progressive hand / arm movements.
The focus is on basic breathing the whole time. Next, you’ll do a variety of stretching exercises, jogging, and / or swimming in the pool, focusing specifically on your weakened muscles. Stretching and cool-down include external and internal arm rotation, shoulder flexion and abduction, followed by lower body stretches.
Since I also believe in the holistic approach of the human being – body, mind and soul – I know that the whole human being is influenced by thoughts and emotions such as denial, pain, fear, restricted mobility, fatigue, loneliness and depression. Therefore, the class ends with a focus on centering and mindfulness and encouraging each participant to relieve the stress of the day.
We are excited to offer our popular and rehabilitative aqua aerobics class at Allan Hancock College. To begin, please contact John Malinowski to schedule your fitness test. Space is limited. Please reserve your place in class today.
Our next courses will take place on August 20th and 27th. John can be reached at 805-346-3413 in Santa Maria and 805-474-5334 in Arroyo Grande. A fitness assessment is required to participate.
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