Water-based exercise improves health-related aspects of fitness in older women

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The purpose of this study was to determine the physiological responses of elderly women to a well-rounded exercise program performed in water (WEX).


The participants (60–75 yr of age) were randomly divided into a training (TR) group (N = 15) and a control group (N = 15). The TR group participated in a 12-wk supervised WEX program, 70 min·day−1, 3 d·wk−1. The WEX consisted of 20 min of warm-up and stretching exercise, 10 min of resistance exercise, 30 min of endurance-type exercise (walking and dancing), and 10 min of cool-down exercise.


The WEX led to an increase (P < 0.05) in peak V̇O2 (12%) and V̇O2 at lactate threshold (20%). Muscular strength evaluated by a hydraulic resistance machine increased significantly at resistance dial setting 8 (slow) for knee extension (8%), knee flexion (13%), chest press (7%) and pull (11%), shoulder press (4%) and pull (6%), and back extension (6%). Vertical jump (9%), side-stepping agility (22%), trunk extension (11%), and FEV1.0 (7%) also increased significantly. There was a significant decrease in skin-fold thickness (−8%), low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (−17%), and total cholesterol (−11%). There were no significant changes in these variables in the control group.


These results indicate that WEX elicits significant improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, body fat, and total cholesterol in older adult women. Water-based exercise appears to be a very safe and beneficial mode of exercise that can be performed as part of a well-rounded exercise program.

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