Aquatic Therapy for MS and Everyone

Wha-hoo! My pool is now open for the next seven months.

As soon as the water gets to seventy degrees, it’s time. Now seventy degrees sounds very cold, but when I am constantly moving around it isn’t. Cold temperatures speed up nerve conduction, allowing me more ability to exercise in a variety of ways. However, a person with arthritis or other chronic illness would want the water warmer (84 degrees is ideal).

One of the reasons I moved to Arizona was to have use of my own pool for therapy. I had a hydraulic lift installed so that I could do a good workout in the pool and not worry about getting out when I am done. Insurance covered 80% of my lift, but I had to fight with them to pay for it and finally after three appeals they did.

Exercise is one of the most important things a person with MS can do. Or anyone for that matter.

I have been a swimmer all of my life, and when I developed MS, swimming became my #1 form of exercise. Three times a week, I have religiously gone into the pool to stretch, exercise, and practice things I had/have trouble doing on land (like standing, walking, and balancing). I have done this for thirty years.

I do a 45-minute workout, but if I’m exceptionally tired I don’t push it and five or ten minutes is better than nothing. Beginners will have to start out slowly and work their way up in time and intensity.

The enormous benefits of swimming are:

* Improves circulation; reduces edema.
* Benefits the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
* All muscles get a workout for stretching, strengthening and endurance.
* Enables excellent practice for things that are difficult to do on land,
such as standing, walking, balancing, and improving posture.
* Provides safety from slipping and falling.
* Exercises in cool water are easier.
* Benefits overall health, constipation.
* Relieves stress/provides relaxation.
* Helps burn calories to keep the weight off.

On days when I’m not in the pool, I get on the floor and do a variety of exercises that I learned from my dancing days, physical therapy and videos.

Before I had my own pool, I used to swim at the YMCA for years. MS Associations have information about aquatic therapy online, and many local chapters offer/arrange aquatic therapy.

People always say that infamous MS saying to me—“You look so good!” I do look good, and even on days when I feel like crap, a little swim does help me feel a little better. You will too!
Author/MS Counselor/Living with MS