As Baby Boomers age, they will be looking for communities in which they can maintain their active lifestyles despite physical limitations that they may encounter. There are a multitude of ways to offer wellness programs in a senior living community and each are important in order to accommodate a broad range of physical abilities. Offering unique technologically-advanced fitness options such as an aquatic therapy pool with underwater treadmill and resistance jet can set a senior living community apart from others in the area.
The equipment itself can attract residents, but it is also important to successfully incorporate the technology into your wellness programs. This will ensure a positive return on investment as well as word of mouth referrals and buzz.
From a piece, “Underwater Treadmills Woo Boomers to Retirement Communities, Encourage Innovative Fitness Programs,” Kim Eichinger, Executive Director of Fitness at Country Meadows Retirement Communities, offers some elements of her favorite successful exercise programs that she uses with her residents:
Step One: The Warm-Up
As any fitness instructor knows, the warm-up stage is integral to the overall success of any training session. Even in tepid water (we keep our pool at around 92 degrees Fahrenheit), the warm-up is equally as important as in land-based fitness routines.
I typically like to start the warm-up from the bottom of the body and work upward. Thus, the short warm-up typically includes:
Heel-Toe Raises – The rocking motion encourages plantar flexion and dorsa flexion, which is essential for walking heel to toe. This movement is important for forward propulsion when walking and helps prevent shuffling.
Side-to-Side Rocking – Helps to prepare for weight shifting and side stepping patterns. In addition to the heel-toe raises, this is a great exercise for working the sides of the feet. Often, this is one area that’s ignored during warm-ups, but it’s essential for a positive outcome on an underwater treadmill. It also helps engage the hips and legs.
Trunk Rotation and Posture Press Ups – The handrails of a HydroWorx pool work as a great feature to assist with exercises that encourage upright posture and trunk movement. By lightly pressing down on the rails to extend the spine and by reaching across the body to grasp the rails, participants can perform exercises to engage the core muscles.
Step Two: Walking Workout
Because of its intrinsic nature, the underwater treadmill lends itself to walking. However, I try not to allow our community’s residents to simply walk as they would normally do on land. By forcing them to think about their posture, gait and speed, I can give them an extremely comprehensive workout that leaves them feeling refreshed but not uncomfortable.
During the walking workout, I employ the following methods to get a significant calorie burn:
Arm-Swing Progressions – Reconnecting arm swing with walking is important for mobility. Participants who ambulate with a walker typically do not swing their arm when walking. We can gradually connect arm swing with walking and still have the safety of the bars to assist the participant while they progress from swinging one arm to both arms.
Level 2 Arm Swing – As arm swing coordination improves strength and endurance can continue to be challenged by extending the arms through a greater range of motion or with more force against the natural resistance of the water. Interval training can also be performed by alternating periods of walking while grasping the bars, then swinging arms while standing in place and then walking while swinging arms.
Cross-Shoulder Swing – The motion of the cross-shoulder swing also provides a boost to the caloric “burn” of the underwater treadmill walking routine. When the arms are forced to move across the body against the natural resistance of the water, their flexibility and strength are engaged.
Step Three: Range of Motion, Strength and Balance
I feel it would be remiss to simply offer walking in a HydroWorx pool; after all, there’s so much more to do! For instance, range of motion, strength and balance (all of which are daily concerns of aging residents) can all be improved during the underwater treadmill workout.
Below are three of my favorite exercises to introduce:
Sit-Back Hip Stretch – Holding onto the bars for balance (or doing so without them, if possible), an individual can “sit back” in the water, bending downward to stretch the upper legs and hip area. To emphasize balance and give the abdominals a workout, I ensure that the core is engaged during this process.
Hip Abduction – Important for balance and walking. The handrails and resistance jet allow for a number of options for varying positions and resistance level in performing these exercises. This is also a great exercise to prepare participants for the strength, range of motion and coordination for side stepping on the underwater treadmill.
Balance Exercises Using Jets – Because the pools come with resistance jets, I use them to build balance. During the training, I have participants stand on both legs, then on one at a time, while the jets are on. Again, the handrails are available for protection and comfort if necessary.
Step Four: Massage
By attaching the massage hose to the resistance jets, my residents can get a deep tissue massage along their legs, arms and back. It’s a great way to cool down, as it facilitates blood flow and reduces edema. So many of the Boomers I work with rave about how good it feels… and how it keeps them from getting sore the next day. Massage also enhances the social component of the cool down phase of the class. Participants love to relax and chat and this makes a nice closure to the workout.
“They can’t believe it– they can’t believe the way their body feels! They just love it!”
Get more great ideas for aquatic programs from Kim Eichinger during her webcast on September 23, 2014 at 4:00pm EDT. Register here>>
Committing to a big purchase can be an overwhelming decision. Wouldn’t it be helpful if someone could provide a roadmap for your success before you committed?
Success looks differently for everyone, therefore we have compiled some great tips and information that can help you create your own unique success plan when it comes to purchasing an aquatic therapy pool for physical therapy clinics, hospitals, sports medicine training facilities and spas.
The key for a successful aquatic program is to structure it in a way that your pool is being used to its maximum potential at all times. Often, the initial reason for purchasing an aquatic therapy pool is to offer an additional treatment method for patients, clients and athletes. Truly, though, there are a multitude of additional ways a specialized pool can be used and it’s important to think outside the box when it comes to maximizing the pool usage.
While it is possible and even probable to fill your pool time daily with insurance billable rehabilitation hours, there are always more ways to generate additional revenue from a technologically advanced therapy pool. Here are four different ways to expand your offerings and generate additional revenue for your business:
- Physical Therapy – HydroWorx pools enable patients to begin physical therapy much sooner than with conventional rehabilitation techniques. Using the multitude of features of the pool, physical therapy can be billed a few different ways to maximize your billable hours in the pool.
- Personal Training and Boot Camps – Either during rehab downtimes or after hours, you can open the pool up to the community and offer a HydroWorx session within a personal training or boot camp program. This opens up a cash-pay opportunity to maximize the use of the pool, while also increasing presence in your community. This can reap dividends for the future as well.
- Sports Performance – Athletes at all levels can benefit from sport-specific HydroWorx training, but the key is to tailor the aquatics program to each athlete’s particular sport. Consider reaching out to local high school or college teams to offer access to the pool for team strength and conditioning on a regular basis. Or find a local running club for additional cash-pay revenue.
- Spa Treatments – Services such as Watsu or Ai Chi are becoming increasingly popular as the unique properties of water continue to prove healing. These programs may be provided as an effective alternative to your main aquatics program to maximize the treatment potential of a HydroWorx pool.
This list is just to jumpstart your thinking about additional ways you can generate some revenue and goodwill in your community. Let us know in the comments what other ways you might think outside the box to maximize the use of your pool!
Staying active as we age is important for maintaining balance, agility and coordination. Aquatic therapy can provide the ideal medium for comfortably and safely staying active.
Join us for an exciting webcast, streaming live from the HydroWorx pool at Leg Up Farm in Mt. Wolf, PA. The webcast will take place on September 23, 2014 from 4:00pm – 5:00pm EDT.
Kim Eichinger, Executive Director of Fitness for Country Meadows Retirement Community, will explain how aquatic therapy and exercise can greatly benefit aging adults. Kim will demonstrate a variety of aquatic exercises and fun activities that will turn your after-therapy hours into an opportunity to serve older adults in your local community.
This live demonstration will feature exercises to improve range of motion, aerobic conditioning and fun activities for balance and agility. We will incorporate treadmill and jet features of the therapy pool and explore task-related exercises performed with a variety of tools. The activities featured are appropriate for active older adults who are seeking fun and functional forms of exercise to support their independent lifestyle.
Attendees will also learn:
- Exercises to develop skills and improve coordination, balance and agility
- Strategies to make sessions fun and keep participants engaged
- The impact that advanced aquatic technology has on improving aging adults’ physical conditioning and performance
This 1 hour webcast will be broadcast live from the HydroWorx 2000 Series pool at Leg Up Farm in Mt. Wolf, PA. Want to attend the webcast in person? Live attendees will have the opportunity to try the HydroWorx 2000 Series pool at Leg Up Farm.
The following blog post has been summarized from the recent Advance for Long Term Care article, Value Based Purchasing for Your Community’s Wellness Center, written by Nick Drey. Nick Drey is the Director of Wellness at Walnut Ridge at Clive Senior Community in Clive, Iowa.
Nick Drey, Wellness Director of Walnut Ridge at Clive Senior Community, shares that emphasizing wellness and providing residents the tools they need to stay independent is the main focus at Walnut Ridge. At the core of their offerings is the wellness and fitness center called ‘The Ridge Club’ which is made up of a fitness station, two warm-water pools and a room for land-based fitness classes.
The warm-water therapy pools top the amenity chart at Walnut Ridge. Having both a warm-water multipurpose pool and a specialized warm-water HydroWorx therapy pool with an underwater treadmill, resistance jets and hand rails meets many needs for their residents. Individuals who utilize the pool for gait training after an injury, or for wellness or therapy, lose any fear of injury or falling because of the environment. This not only increases residents’ confidence but also means they are less likely to cancel or skip an aquatic therapy appointment. Residents are able to get a great workout as a result of using the pool which increases overall strength and muscle mass.
“We also utilize underwater cameras which gives users immediate feedback concerning gait analysis. It’s a training tool that no one else in the area has and sets us apart from other wellness clubs and other senior living communities. The fact that both pools are heated to about 92 degrees is a major draw within the community- and a major selling point-as warm-water pools are quite scarce in our area. We have a multitude of residents that have moved into our community simply because we offer warm-water pool.”- Nick Drey
Along with their therapy pools, Walnut Ridge features self-adjusting fitness equipment. The residents each have smart keys that are programmed with their workouts. When the key is inserted into the equipment, it automatically adjusts to their appropriate settings.
Each of these amenities and features share one common goal: increasing residents’ ability to stay independent longer and reducing falls. Statistics show that one in three 65 year-olds will fall annually and that number increases with age. Falls are often a result of imbalance and weaknesses developed overtime. Therefore as Drey states, it is important to have tools and programs in place to provide members and residents the best plan to improve balance and strength. The underwater treadmill is one of those tools at Walnut Ridge. They are able to create a plan to stop stopping major incidents of falls before they happen by increasing residents’ and club members’ lean body mass in a way that land-based exercise alone does not.
Additionally, an overall community goal is to continue to grow. At Walnut Ridge, they are able to rent out space in their pool for therapy groups to utilize. This brings in added revenue each month as well as referrals, which equals growth.
As America continues to age, investing in amenities that enable residents to stay active and increase strength is essential for any organization desiring to stay competitive.
Upcoming Webcast: Aquatic Therapy for the Aging Adult
Join us on September 24, 2014 from 4:00pm to 5:00pm EDT for a webcast streaming live from the HydroWorx pool. Kim Eichinger, Executive Director of Fitness for Country Meadows Retirement Communities, will be presenting the presentation, Aquatic Therapy for the Aging Adult. This live webcast will explain how aquatic therapy and exercise can greatly benefit aging adults.
Did you know that endurance exercise reduces blood pressure? Of course you did! But we’re not here to tell you something you already knew.
There are an estimated 67 million Americans who suffer from high blood pressure. Many struggle to find ways to improve their condition naturally, especially those that are typically sedentary. Though it may be known that exercise can help lower blood pressure, many are unable or unwilling to exercise on land. Many times land exercise can be painful or difficult for those that are overweight or suffer from comorbidities such as arthritis or chronic pain.
The focus of a recent study, Aquatic Treadmill Training Reduces Blood Pressure Reactivity to Physical Stress is exercise done on an underwater treadmill. This study shows that while all endurance exercise can reduce blood pressure (BP) and the body’s related stress responses, aquatic treadmill training can significantly reduce resting diastolic blood pressure MORE than land-based training.
The study, conducted at Texas A&M University, tracked the response of 60 adults who worked out on either land-based treadmills or in a HydroWorx therapy pool on an underwater treadmill during specific sessions each week. The results from the study were that aquatic treadmill training, but not land treadmill training, significantly reduced resting diastolic BP, exercise systolic BP, diastolic BP, mean arterial pressure and pulse pressure during stages of exercise stress and recovery.
The great news is that not only does underwater treadmill exercise provide a safe, comfortable and less painful form of endurance exercise, it can be even more beneficial than land exercise.
To learn more about the research being done at Texas A&M University, please watch this video:
Download our Research Studies Book for a comprehensive overview of studies that have been done on underwater treadmills.