I went to an Arthritis Aquatics Exercise class this morning. I had attended them at another facility fairly regularly for several years, but got out of the habit for a variety of reasons. The place I go to now has alot of choices of both water and 'land' exercise classes, including a good selection of 'silver' versions for those of us who might not be able to do the intensity of other classes. The Arthritis class is all in shallow water so you can stand up, in fact, I keep my glasses on so I can see what is going on.
The Arthritis Foundation has a number of excellent programs to help people live better with arthritis and related issues. They have certification programs to train instructors to lead Arthritis-friendly exercises, including general exercise, a walking program,Tai Chi, and their Aquatic Program. The instructors lead classes at YMCA's, Jewish Community Centers, and other community centers and fitness centers around the country. At some places these classes are included in the cost of facility membership, other places there is a modest additional fee. Most places allow non-members to participate for a fee. (I paid $5 per class at the previous facility as a non-member, at the current facility, it is included in my membership.)
All of the Arthritis Foundation programs use gentle activities to help increase joint flexibility and range of motion and to help maintain muscle strength. There are added benefits of the Aquatics Program. First, water helps to buoy you up, so the exercise is low/non-impact, so it is easy on the joints. Second, moving against the water gives a little resistance, which helps with strengthening. Third, at many locations that provide these programs, they are done in a therapy pool, which has warmer water than most swimming pools. The facility I go to has three pools, The one where the Arthritis Aquatics class takes place is kept at 90 degrees, the other two pools are 86 and 83 degrees.
Over the past few years I have developed an intolerance to heat. If I am outside for an extended length of time on a very hot day, such as at an art fair, I end up nauseated, and totally drained and exhausted for the rest of the day. I was a little worried how the high temperature of the pool would affect me. The previous facility I went to did not have a therapy pool, their pool was kept in the low to mid 80's. Water temperature affects the body differently than air temperature. An 80 degree pool can feel pretty chilly. The therapy pool felt a warm to me, and I would have preferred the air temperature a little cooler, but I was comfortable. In fact, when I got home, I felt energized, and took care of some tasks around the house before I sat down to write.
There are many other types of water exercise classes, some stay in the shallower water so you can stand up, other classes are in the deeper water, with flotation belts or devices. The classes also vary in intensity, some very aerobic, others less so. If there is a facility near you that has water exercise classes but not an Arthritis class, ask about the intensity of the classes they have. Try them out to find a good fit for you. Remember that you aren't required to do all of every exercise, listen to your body and adjust as needed. Even with the Arthritis classes, you may need to build up slowly. That is okay. Less exercise is better than no exercise. Recent research with Fibromyalgia found that mild low impact exercise helps decrease pain and fatigue.