Warm Water Therapy for Arthritis

Exercise has always been an important component in the long-term management of arthritis.

It helps keep joints moving, increases strength and flexibility, reduces pain, and protects joints against further damage. According to a case study by the Mayo Clinic, exercising in warm water can alleviate pain and improve joint function for people with arthritis. The Mayo Clinic study found that after participating in the National Arthritis Foundation’s Aquatic Exercise Program, participants suffering from arthritis reduced their perception of pain by 12.8 percent and difficulty by 18.2 percent.

The warm water in pools and spas provides an ideal setting for relieving arthritis pain because the heat helps relieve pain and stiffness, while the buoyancy lessens the strain on joints and the gentle resistance helps build muscle strength. For those who do not own a pool or spa, The Arthritis Foundation offers aquatic exercise classes at public pools nationwide. The Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program (AFAP) is conducted two to three times per week at local indoor pools for 45 to 60 minutes. The classes involve 72 range-of-motion, strengthening, endurance, and mobility exercises performed in water with a temperature range of 83 – 89 degrees F. The program also provides an educational component, which teaches participants about arthritis and how to manage it.

Be sure to consult your doctor to determine the appropriate exercise program for you. Visit www.arthritis.org to contact your local Arthritis Foundation office and find programs in your area.