The Best Water Exercises
to Strengthen Bones

By: Biondi
Courtesy of Osteo Strong

As we age, maintaining bone health becomes increasingly crucial for a vibrant and active lifestyle. One often overlooked but highly effective way to strengthen bones is through water exercises. Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast, a senior looking for a low-impact workout, or someone recovering from an injury, water exercises offer a unique blend of resistance and support. Let’s dive into the world of aquatic fitness and explore the best water exercises to help strengthen your bones.

Aquatic Walking

Benefits:

Aquatic walking in a pool or shallow water provides resistance without putting excessive strain on joints. This low-impact exercise is suitable for individuals of all fitness levels.

How-to:

Stand tall in chest-deep water and start walking forward. Engage your core and swing your arms naturally. The water’s resistance helps build bone density in a gentle manner.

Water Aerobics

Benefits:

Water aerobics combines cardiovascular exercise with resistance training, making it an excellent full-body workout. The buoyancy of water reduces impact on joints, making it ideal for those with arthritis or osteoporosis.

How-to:

Join a water aerobics class or create your routine. Incorporate exercises like leg lifts, arm circles, and jumping jacks to boost heart health and strengthen bones.

Deep Water Running

Benefits:

Deep water running is a high-intensity, zero-impact exercise that provides a great cardiovascular workout while enhancing bone density. It’s an excellent option for those seeking an alternative to traditional running.

How-to:

Use a flotation device and head to deeper water. Start running in place, lifting your knees as high as comfortable. The water’s resistance challenges your muscles and bones without the impact on your joints.

Aquatic Strength Training

Benefits:

Water provides natural resistance, making strength training effective and joint-friendly. Incorporating water dumbbells or resistance bands intensifies the workout.

How-to: Perform strength exercises such as bicep curls, tricep dips, and leg lifts in the water. The resistance offered by water enhances muscle and bone strength without the risk of injury.

Swimming

Benefits:

Swimming is a full-body workout that engages various muscle groups and promotes overall bone health. It’s especially beneficial for building strength in the spine, hips, and shoulders.

How-to:

Choose different swimming strokes like freestyle, breaststroke, or backstroke. Varying your strokes challenges different muscle groups, contributing to stronger bones.

Water Yoga

Benefits:

Combining the benefits of yoga with the resistance of water, water yoga enhances flexibility, balance, and bone strength. It’s particularly beneficial for those with joint issues.

How-to:

Practice traditional yoga poses in the water, adapting them to the buoyancy. Focus on controlled movements, deep breathing, and maintaining proper form to maximize the benefits.

Incorporating water exercises into your routine is a refreshing and effective way to strengthen your bones. Whether you’re recovering from an injury, managing arthritis, or simply aiming to maintain optimal bone health, the buoyancy and resistance of water provide a safe and enjoyable environment. Dive in, stay active, and keep your bones strong for a healthier, more vibrant life.

At OsteoStrong on Mercer Island, we provide a diverse range of exercises and specialized techniques meticulously crafted to enhance bone density and mitigate the likelihood of fractures. Collaborating closely with our experts, we tailor a personalized program that aligns with your unique needs and aspirations. If you’re committed to prioritizing your bone health and overall well-being, contact us today to claim your free session. Our dedicated team is poised to guide and assist you throughout your journey. Take the first step towards a healthier you by scheduling your consultation today!

Kick Up Your Heels at SCW MANIA®

Hey Aqua Instructors, this new session on the SCW MANIA® schedule will have you kickin’ to the website, and you don’t need to wear cowboy boots.  Elizabeth Mooney is back with her new program, Country Fusion® Aquatics.  If you’ve previously enjoyed her line-dancing fitness sessions, you’re going to love splashin’ to country music in the pool.

SCW Florida and Atlanta MANIA® offer over 200+ activity and lecture sessions, 20 specialty certifications, and even the opportunity to watch the recordings for 60 days when you get home. Join Elizabeth and the rest of our very talented Aqua Fitness Leaders, like Rosie Malaghan, Apy Figueroa from LaBlast Splash, Jenna Bostic from Aqua Zumba, and of course Manuel Velazquez and Melissa Layne. Registration is still open, and the Early Bird savings have been extended. See ya at the pool!

The Surprising Link Between Hydration and the Aging Process

By: Lisa Monroe
Courtesy of Blue Zones

new study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) published by eBioMedicine identifies the key role hydration is thought to play in the aging process. This new research serves as great proof of the importance of drinking enough water to stay properly hydrated.

The study determined that middle-aged persons with higher sodium-to-water levels in their blood biologically age faster. They are also more likely to develop chronic diseases – such as diabetes, heart failure, and dementia – and to die prematurely.

The study determined that middle-aged persons with higher sodium-to-water levels in their blood biologically age faster.

Decreased hydration levels were actually shown to accelerate the process of biological aging despite chronological age, our age measured in years from our birth.

According to an NIH press release, “The results suggest that proper hydration may slow down aging and prolong a disease-free life,” said Natalia Dmitrieva, Ph.D., a study author and researcher in the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of NIH.

The results suggest that proper hydration may slow down aging and prolong a disease-free life. —Natalia Dmitrieva, Ph.D., a study author and researcher in the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at the National Heart,…

A mouse study inspired the new research

The study was inspired by an earlier study on mice which suggested that restricting water shortened their lives by as much as 6 months, equivalent to about 15 years of life for humans.

Researchers said in the new observational study that their initial goal was to test “the hypothesis that optimal hydration may slow down the aging process in humans.” The study used a large dataset from the federally funded Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study which included men and women between the ages of 45 and 66 years who were followed over a long period of time.

Researchers in the new study assessed information from ARIC study participants that had been shared during five medical visits – the first two when participants were in their 50s and then the last when they were ages 70 to 90. To allow for a fair comparison, researchers excluded data from adults who already had high levels of serum sodium or underlying conditions like obesity that might affect serum sodium levels.

“Decreased body water content is the most common factor that increases serum sodium, which is why the results suggest that staying well hydrated may slow down the aging process and prevent or delay chronic disease,” said Dmitrieva.

What is serum sodium and why is it important?

Serum sodium was used to gauge hydration habits in the new study. Serum sodium is the amount of sodium relative to the volume of water in the blood, and it goes up as hydration is reduced. Serum sodium can be detected by a simple blood test, and according to the Mayo Clinic, a normal blood sodium level is between 135 and 145 millimoles (mmol) per liter.

Researchers in the recent study used 15 age-dependent biomarkers to calculate the biological age of cohorts from the ARIC study. They found that people with higher serum sodium were biologically older than their cohorts of the same chronological age and also more prone to chronic, debilitating diseases that can reduce quality of life.

More specifically, the study results showed that odds to biologically age beyond one’s chronological age went up by an estimated 10-15 percent for serum sodium exceeding 144 mmol/l and by approximately 50 percent for serum sodium levels above 144 mmol/l, when compared to participants with serum sodium levels between 137-142 mmol/l. Note that these higher serum sodium levels thought to increase biological aging are still within the normal range, even though they’re at the high end of the spectrum.

People in the original blue zones drink lots of water

People in the original blue zones, home to the longest-living populations, make drinking water a part of their daily routines. The Seventh Day Adventists, for instance, drink 7 glasses of water a day.

When asked what the longest-lived people in the world drink, Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner said, “Easy: Clean water is the best longevity beverage on earth.”

Easy: Clean water is the best longevity beverage on earth. —@thedanbuettner

Hydrating primarily with water is just one of the recommendations in our Blue Zones Food Guidelines, which were designed so that you can eat – and drink – just like the longest-lived people in the world for the same longevity benefits. The guidelines advise drinking at least 7 glasses of water daily.

Tips that make it easy to get enough water

Here are some tips from the Blue Zones Meal Planner to help you get your daily recommended amount of water.

  1. Infuse water with fruits or herbs to add flavor and texture
  2. Brew and drink decaffeinated, herbal teas
  3. Drink water when you first wake up
  4. Eat more hydrating foods like celery, cucumber, apples, and melons
  5. Track your daily water intake using a free smartphone app
  6. Read our Rethink Your Drink article for ideas on hydrating without added sugars

WATERinMOTION® Making Waves
at AEA’s Aquatic Fitness Conference

Exciting news WATERinMOTION® is participating at IAFTC (International Aquatic Fitness & Therapy Conference) May 7-11, at the Marriott Sanibel Harbour Resort in beautiful Ft. Meyers, Florida.  This week-long aquatic fitness and therapy educational event offers over 150 workshops & certifications, along with an Exhibitor Marketplace featuring SCW WATERinMOTION®, a unique pre-choreographed aqua program. Not only will WATERinMOTION® be represented at a booth in the Marketplace, but registered attendees can experience the power of WATERinMOTION® by participating in a FREE 20-minute mini-session on Wed, May 8 at 4:35 pm and receive a FREE pair of WATERinMOTION® Web Aqua Gloves.  Even though IAFTC begins in less than a month, registration is still open.  For more information, the schedule, and a brochure visit their website.

The Magic of Water:
A Place for All Abilities

Courtesy of Athletic Business

Water: it makes up over half of the human body, covers over 70 percent of the entire world, and is essential to all living things. Since the beginning of time, people have been drawn to the water and its natural healing abilities — and for good reason. This instinctual draw to water has today evolved from ancient healing bath houses, to the modernized and science-driven aquatic therapy that is seen today. What was once thought to be reserved for only the most privileged and wealthy can now be found in 10.4 million backyards throughout the United States alone. Pools are a place where communities come together, where athletes can crank up resistance, and where physical therapy allows patients to move in ways never previously thought possible.

The Ultimate (Often the Only) Therapy Solution

Today’s society is in a place of increased health awareness, perpetually seeking more unique and effective ways to improve quality of life. While aquatic therapy has indeed been around for a long time, it’s only recently risen to become one of the most effective forms of physical therapy – especially for people with limited mobility and neurological diseases. 

Mike Tran, Physical Therapist at the Community Medical Center in Missoula, Montana, says that sometimes, it’s the only option. He emphasizes the importance of the equipment that makes aquatic therapy possible:

“We get a lot of patients where the pool is really the only safe, non-weight-bearing environment for them, and we use it every day. The pool adds such a soothing and therapeutic environment to aid in recovery, and there are so many patients who would not be able to utilize the pool at all without a pool lift; the lift becomes not a convenience, but a necessity. It’s invaluable.”

Innovating for Inclusion

As aquatic therapy increases in popularity, industry manufacturers are focused now more than ever on developing equipment that not only facilitates recovery, but allows people of many different abilities to take advantage of its benefits. Historically, pools were very much designed to cater only to able-bodied persons; oftentimes, leaving the people who needed the water the most unable to access it. However, since the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) revisions were written to include swimming pools, a major shift in societal thinking has been paving the way for more and more people to be able to enjoy all the benefits aquatics have to offer. The wonderful thing about the water is that it’s not only a place for low-resistance therapy; it’s also an incredible full-body workout. 

Athletes of All Abilities

The wonderful thing about the water is that it’s not only a place for low-resistance therapy; it’s also an incredible full-body workout. While on one hand its buoyancy can be used to aid mobility, on the other hand, its natural resistance can also be used to increase workout efficiency. Because water offers 12-14 times more resistance than land exercise alone in addition to aiding in body temperature regulation, athletes from all around the world utilize aquatic training in their regular routines. Innovations in aquatic fitness equipment such as swim spas and underwater pool bikes help fitness professionals take advantage of these benefits in fun and unique ways that help them target different muscle groups. New studies have even shown that regular aquatic exercise can improve heart health and cardiovascular strength, improve balance and flexibility, and build endurance.

Mind, Body and Soul

Studies have also shown that swimming can even improve mental health. It is known that decreased physical activity is directly correlated with increased levels of depression. So, it stands to reason that people with limited mobility might very likely struggle the most with the inability to do the one thing they need to improve their mental health – and therefore, would benefit immensely from an activity that allowed them to move easily and without pain. Especially during winter months, when people of all ages and abilities tend to decrease their physical activity, swimming can be an excellent way to fight seasonal depression. 

The benefits of aquatic therapy and exercise are innumerable, and thanks to modern science, our society is constantly learning more about its magical properties and the way it can benefit humanity. Living in a world where information is always right at the tip of one’s fingers, it is not knowledge that holds back the further development of these revelations, but the physical barriers that continue to deny access. Together, let us strive towards a commitment to inclusion that allows people of all abilities to enjoy and benefit from that magical place we call water.

Why All the Buzz About Inflammation
and Just How Bad is it?

By: Robert H Shmerling, MD
Courtesy of Harvard Health

Quick health quiz: how bad is inflammation for your body?

You’re forgiven if you think inflammation is very bad. News sources everywhere will tell you it contributes to the top causes of death worldwide. Heart disease, stroke, dementia, and cancer all have been linked to chronic inflammation. And that’s just the short list. So, what can you do to reduce inflammation in your body?

Good question! Before we get to the answers, though, let’s review what inflammation is — and isn’t.

Inflammation 101

Misconceptions abound about inflammation. One standard definition describes inflammation as the body’s response to an injury, allergy, or infection, causing redness, warmth, pain, swelling, and limitation of function. That’s right if we’re talking about a splinter in your finger, bacterial pneumonia, or the rash of poison ivy. But it’s only part of the story, because there’s more than one type of inflammation:

  • Acute inflammation rears up suddenly, lasts days to weeks, and then settles down once the cause, such as an injury or infection, is under control. Generally, acute inflammation is a reaction that attempts to restore the health of the affected area. That’s the type described in the definition above.

View Fighting Inflammation Report

Which cells are involved in inflammation?

4 inflammation myths and misconceptions

Inflammation is the root cause of most modern illness.

Not so fast. Yes, a number of chronic diseases are accompanied by inflammation. In many cases, controlling that inflammation is an important part of treatment. And it’s true that unchecked inflammation contributes to long-term health problems.

But inflammation is not the directcause of most chronic diseases. For example, blood vessel inflammation occurs with atherosclerosis. Yet we don’t know whether chronic inflammation caused this, or whether the key contributors were standard risk factors (such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking — all of which cause inflammation).

You know when you’re inflamed.

True for some conditions. People with rheumatoid arthritis, for example, know when their joints are inflamed because they experience more pain, swelling, and stiffness. But the type of inflammation seen in obesity, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease, for example, causes no specific symptoms. Sure, fatigue, brain fog, headaches, and other symptoms are sometimes attributed to inflammation. But plenty of people have those symptoms without inflammation.

Controlling chronic inflammation would eliminate most chronic disease.

Not so. Effective treatments typically target the cause of inflammation, rather than suppressing inflammation. A person with rheumatoid arthritis may take steroids or other anti-inflammatory medicine, which reduces their symptoms. But to avoid permanent joint damage, they also take a medicine like methotrexate to treat the underlying condition causing inflammation.

Anti-inflammatory diets or certain foods (blueberries! kale! garlic!) prevent disease by suppressing inflammation.

While it’s true that some foods and diets are healthier than others, it’s not clear their benefits are due to reducing inflammation. Switching from a typical Western diet to an “anti-inflammatory diet” (such as the Mediterranean diet) improves health in multiple ways. Reducing inflammation is just one of many possible mechanisms.

The bottom line

Inflammation isn’t a lone villain cutting short millions of lives each year. The truth is, even if you could completely eliminate inflammation — sorry, not possible — you wouldn’t want to. Quashing inflammation leaves you vulnerable to deadly infections. Your body couldn’t effectively respond to allergens and toxins or recover from injuries.

Inflammation is complicated. While acute inflammation is your body’s natural, usually helpful response to injury, infection, or other dangers, it sometimes spins out of control. We need to better understand what causes inflammation and what prompts it to become chronic. Then we can treat an underlying cause, instead of assigning the blame for every illness to inflammation or hoping that eating individual foods will reduce it.

There’s no quick or simple fix for unhealthy inflammation. To reduce it, we need to detect, prevent, and treat its underlying causes. Yet there is good news. Most often inflammation exists in your body for good reason and does what it’s supposed to do. And when it is causing trouble, you can take steps to improve the situation.

About the Author: Dr. Robert H. Shmerling

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School. As a practicing rheumatologist for over 30 years, Dr. Shmerling engaged in a mix of patient care, teaching, and research. His research interests center on diagnostic studies in patients with musculoskeletal symptoms, and rheumatic and autoimmune diseases. He has published research regarding infectious arthritis, medical ethics, and diagnostic test performance in rheumatic disease. Having retired from patient care in 2019, Dr. Shmerling now works as a senior faculty editor for Harvard Health Publishing.

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