While the physiological benefits of aquatic therapy are fairly well known, there are some additional benefits. Patients can experience numerous psychological benefits when they engage in regular pool exercises. Aquatic therapy will help individuals strengthen their bodies and manage pain, but can also improve their overall mental health. Below are a few unexpected psychological benefits of aquatic therapy.
Swimming is a common stress-relieving activity, and for a good reason. People often walk away from a dip in the pool feeling refreshed and relaxed, whether the activity was meant for recreation or therapy. There are a few reasons aqua therapy can help reduce stress effectively in patients and athletes. For example:
- Muscle relaxation: A patient’s muscle pain or tension can cause or contribute to stress. However, aquatic therapy in warm water is well-known for relaxing the muscles and relieving tension. Aqua therapy stress relief has such a profound effect because it starts by soothing the body, which in turn helps soothe the mind.
- Natural fun: While aqua therapy usually includes gentle, low-key exercises, most people associate the water with fun and relaxation. Even in a physical therapy facility or a senior living community, water therapy may remind them of past beach trips or afternoon swims in the backyard pool.
Increase in Body Awareness
Another mental health benefit of aquatic therapy is increased body awareness in patients and athletes. Spending time in the water helps individuals improve their body awareness as they think more about their movements while working against the viscosity of the water. Similarly, because the brain is working hard on body awareness, aqua therapy may also help patients concentrate and become more alert.
Increased body awareness can be especially beneficial to athletes since the increased body awareness can carry over to land. However, no matter the individual, focus and awareness are useful psychological benefits.
Improved Outlook and Confidence
More importantly, when individuals can move better in the water, they feel better. For those that have suffered an injury or undergone surgery, they can often make progress in the water sooner than they can on land. Seeing themselves performing activities that they want to get back to on land, such as running, can provide an unexpected element of hope.
For weekend warriors, using aquatic therapy to increase their mileage or workouts can lead to improved confidence. Aqua therapy provides them the opportunity to do more than their bodies may otherwise allow on land, especially as they age. This means they can continue to maintain or improve fitness levels without as much stress on their bodies. The confidence that comes from being fit is imperative for fitness lovers.