Academic journal article The Sport Journal

Psychological and Physiological Effects of Aquatic Exercise Program among the Elderly

Academic journal article The Sport Journal

Psychological and Physiological Effects of Aquatic Exercise Program among the Elderly

Article excerpt


Evidence shows that increase of age is associated with the decline of many motor functions, (1,18,8,17) and the subsequent disenabling of performance of basic daily requirements. In addition, as individuals progress beyond 60 years of age, there are also tendencies for increased prevalence of mood disturbance; i.e., increased negative effect and decreased positive effect; (6). Past research on activity, aging and psychological well-being has concluded that exercise has a positive effect on psychological well-being (12). Exercise prescribed for the elderly differs from that of younger individuals in the method in which it is applied. Since an elderly person is more fragile and has to overcome more physical and medical limitations in comparison to younger individuals, training methods should not include high impact activities, and possibly a more gradual training progression (2).

Exercising in water has become widely prominent, and it has been reported that water exercise, especially in hot water, is therapeutically beneficial for elderly individuals (3).Water exercise is also a viable form of conditioning for those who are suffering orthopaedic problems (20). Training in water provides buoyancy and a required resistance for training, resulting in a training regimen that provides high levels of energy expenditure with relatively low impact on the joint extremities (21). Furthermore, this method of training is more motivating for overweight individuals because their bodies are not exposed to other participants (9). The authors of the present study hypothesized that participation of the elderly in a daily physical activity program in hot water, would improve their physiological and psychological status. Specifically, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of a daily physical activity program in an outdoor hot water spring, on joint mobility and mood state in older men and women.



Subjects in this study were 31 independently living elderly volunteers (6 males, 25 females) ranging in age from 60 to 82 years old (M = 71, SD = 5), with body weights between 63 kg and 86 kg (M = 75.7, SD = 5.5), and heights between 154 cm and 163 cm (M = 156, SD = 3). Subjects were recruited from a resort community in Edipsos, Greece during the summer of 2009. None of the elderly had been involved in any physical activity for at least 6 months before the exercise program began. They were assigned randomly into one experimental group (n = 20) and one control group (n = 11). Participants were graduates of elementary education (55.1%) and the majority of them were retired (71.5%). Their previous profession was 31.3% civil servants, and 42.3% free professionals. The majority of them (79.4%) were married and living with their spouses (65.4%). The greater part of the participants (65.5%) had a moderate daily mobility level according to the AAHPERD exercise consent form for adults (16). The subjects also had similar health status. Specifically, the participants of this study did not suffer from serious cardiovascular problems (coronary illness, infarction) respiratory or neurological diseases or serious orthopaedic problems. The more prominent health problems that they faced were of orthopaedic nature (34.4%) as well as high blood pressure (31.5%), which did not constitute obstacles to their participation in the research. Therefore, no subject was excluded for medical reasons. Subjects who missed more than four exercise sessions were excluded from the analysis.


The experimental procedure was 20 days in duration, with 1 day of pretesting and 1 day of post-testing. The pre- and post-exercise assessments were performed by the same person for both groups. In an effort to ensure maximum compliance with the program, the same instructor conducted the intervention program in all groups. The intervention program took place in an outdoor swimming pool consisting of 100 % spring water at 34 [degrees]C located in the Revitalization Club. …

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