April 14, 2013
Researchers Investigate Benefits Of Aquatic Exercise For Older Women
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online
Women who participated in a six month, high-intensity aquatic workout plan became stronger and suffered fewer falls on average, researchers from the Universidade Federal de SÃ£o Paulo claim in a new study.
According to Reuters Health reporter Trevor Stokes, lead author Linda Moreira and colleagues recruited more than 100 inactive women in their 50s and 60s.
Each participant was given 1,000 international units of vitamin D3 and 500 milligrams of calcium — two supplements which have been linked to bone and muscle health — and then asked to participate in a fitness plan specially designed to build strength and increase resistance.
“Half the women were also assigned to an aquatic exercise program, which Moreira's group created to combat osteoporosis by preventing falls, and named HydrOS,” Stokes said. In place of the high-repetition, low-impact aquatic aerobic plans more commonly used, the HydrOS interval training plan “included bursts of intense activity between 10 to 30 seconds at up to 90 percent of maximum heart rate,” he added.
Essentially, the water provided the same resistance weights do on land, Moreira explained to the Reuters reporter. Seven months later, the number of women who suffered falls dropped 44 percent, but those who participated in the HydrOS program saw their fall rate decrease by 86 percent.
Furthermore, the investigators discovered the aquatic exercisers had gained increased hand, back, hip and knee strength, as well as increased flexibility. The full results of the study have been published in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society.
“What we did was to test the model for muscle training in the gyms and put it inside the pools,” Moreira told Stokes on Friday. She added that a second, forthcoming paper would demonstrate how, over the course of the six month study, the aquatic exercise group maintained bone mineral density in their femur leg bones, while those who did not participate in the HydrOS program saw their bone density decrease by 1.2 percent.
“There's this bias in the osteoporosis community against doing any water-based exercise,” added Andrea LaCroix from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, who was not involved in the study. “This study goes in the face of that. If they show changes in bone density, that would be quite amazing and novel and will be a paradigm changer in terms of osteoporosis prevention.”