The water provides an ideal environment for exercise and healing. The unique properties of buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure and viscosity combine to allow individuals who may not tolerate land based activities to be able to exercise gaining the physical and mental benefits, improving quality of life.

As a physical therapist I see the positive effects a regular aquatic exercise program can have on individuals will variety of injuries and functional limitations.  The following are some of the scientifically proven benefits to aquatic therapy and exercise.

  • Immersion in warm water alone increases blood flow to the muscles up to 240%
  • Buoyancy provides unweighting of the joints, leading to decreased compressive forces and pain allowing greater movement with reduced compensatory patterns.
  • The force of buoyancy can assist, support or resist movements allowing weaker muscles to go through full range to gain strength and provides progression as individuals gain strength and endurance.
  • The viscosity of the water (drag) provides resistance in all directions of movement strengthening the muscles equally about the joints.
  • Gait (walking) and balance can be safely challenged and improved with the support of the water and reduced fear from falling.
  • Hydrostatic pressure helps build the muscles of inspiration and aids in reducing edema (swelling) in the limbs.
  • Emotional benefits range from reduced anxiety and depression to a sense of being “normal” in the ability to exercise.

Further resources and organizations involved in aquatic therapy and exercise:


Beth Scalone, PT, DPT, OCS, ATRIC

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Orthopedic Certified Specialist

Aquatic Therapy and Rehabilitation Institute Certified


North County Water and Sports Therapy Center

15373 Innovation Drive, Suite 175

San Diego, CA 92128