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Benefits of water-based exercises for joint pain & cardiovascular health

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), 1 in 4 deaths were due to cardiovascular diseases in 2018. In the same year, cardiovascular diseases made up 83% of hospitalisations for people over the age of 55.(1) The independent causes of cardiovascular diseases are due to the physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle.(2)

Regular physical activity is a good preventative method for the progression of cardiovascular diseases. However, dry-land activities such as running and jogging can be tough on joints, particularly for people with degenerative knee conditions such as osteoarthritis. The good thing is, there are joint-friendly, water-based exercises that you can do to increase your level of physical activity.

Water aerobics

Water aerobics is a widely recognised aquatic exercise amongst health specialists, sport professionals, and practitioners.(4) Water-based exercises are extremely helpful to people who are dealing with obesity, low levels of physical fitness, locomotion difficulties caused by ageing, orthopaedic or neurological disabilities, or pulmonary disease or osteoarthritis.(3) Read on to find out more about water-based activities.

There are many ways you can get a full body workout in the pool. Some examples include water walking, arm lifts, knee extensions and leg kicks.(8) It is important to consult your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

What are the benefits of water aerobics?

Water reduces the impact on joints and the perception of pain due to its buoyancy, which also provides extra support for muscles and joints.(5) The warm water and hydrostatic pressure of the pool promotes muscle relaxation, stress relief, which decreases muscle spasms for proper movement.(6) Water-based activities can improve muscle strength, body composition, pain and overall quality of life.(7)

Water exercise is particularly beneficial for people:

  • with arthritis in several joints

  • with conditions affecting feet, knees, hips and back

  • preparing or recovering from joint surgery

  • who find it difficult or painful to exercise on land.(10)

What can we do at Surecell?

We have a team of sports doctors and exercise physiologists who can work with you to develop a tailored program that includes water-based exercises. To book a consultation with one of our team members, please call 03 9822 9996.

How do I get started?

  1. Contact your local pool or community health centre to find out if they offer suitable classes for your condition and ability.

  2. If you are interested in having one-on-one sessions with a physiotherapist in a hydrotherapy pool, contact the Australian Physiotherapy Association to find an aquatic physiotherapist. Some public physiotherapy services may also offer one-on-one sessions – contact your local community health centre for details or ask one of our team members by calling 03 9822 9996.

Water-based exercises within the Stonnington Council

Harold Holt Swim Centre and Prahran Aquatic Centre offer 45-minute aqua group fitness classes that allow for movement within water without the impact. They also have active classes such as Active Aqua for older adults to focus on low impact movement and low risk activity at an achievable pace.

For more information about their classes, bookings and opening times, please visit:

Location for Harold Holt Swim Centre: Corner of Edgar and High Streets, Glen Iris VIC 3146

Location for Prahan Aquatic Centre: 1 Essex Street, Prahran VIC 3181


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) (2020), Cardiovascular disease, viewed 24 June 2021,

  2. Simmons. J, Brown. A (2013) Aerobic Exercise: Health Benefits, Types and Common Misconceptions. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc (Physical Fitness, Diet and Exercise).

  3. Raffaelli C, Milanese C, Lanza M, Zamparo P. Water-based training enhances both physical capacities and body composition in healthy young adult women. Sport Sci for Health. 2016; 12(2): 1–13.

  4. Barbosa TM, Marinho DA, Reis VM, Silva AJ, Bragada JA. Physiological assessment of head-out aquatic exercises in healthy subjects: a qualitative review. J Sports Sci Med. 2009; 8(2): 179–189.

  5. Mattos, F. de et al. (2016) ‘Effects of aquatic exercise on muscle strength and functional performance of individuals with osteoarthritis: a systematic review’, Revista Brasileira de Reumatologia (English Edition), 56(6), pp. 530–542. doi: 10.1016/j.rbre.2016.09.003.

  6. Yázigi, F. et al. (2013) ‘The PICO project: aquatic exercise for knee osteoarthritis in overweight and obese individuals’, BMC musculoskeletal disorders, 14, p. 320. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-14-320.

  7. Lu, M. et al. (2015) ‘Effectiveness of aquatic exercise for treatment of knee osteoarthritis: Systematic review and meta-analysis’, Zeitschrift für Rheumatologie, 74(6), p. 543. doi: 10.1007/s00393-014-1559-9.

  8. Cronkleton, E (2019) 'Try These 8 Pool Exercises for a Full-Body Workout', Healthline, viewed 20 June 2021, available from:

  9. Pereira Neiva, H. et al. (2018) ‘The effect of 12 weeks of water-aerobics on health status and physical fitness: An ecological approach’, PloS one, 13(5), p. e0198319. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0198319.

  10. Arthritis Australia 2021, Water Exercise, viewed 29 June 2021, available from:

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