Honda (2012) Curative and health enhancement effects of aquatic exercise: evidence based on interventional studies


Summary: Health Benefits of Aquatic Exercise – Aquatic Exercise for Locomotor Diseases

Introduction and Purpose

The study by Honda et al. focuses on the health benefits and curative effects of aquatic exercise. Aquatic exercise, as defined in the study, includes a variety of movements like walking in all directions, stretching, and conditioning exercises performed in a swimming pool, excluding swimming​​.

Methods and Evidence Grading

The researchers adopted high-grade study designs, including randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and nonrandomized controlled trials (nRCTs), to assess the effectiveness of aquatic exercise. The concept of evidence grading, pivotal in evidence-based medicine and health policy, was utilized to evaluate the curative and health-enhancement effects of aquatic exercise​​.

Results from Systematic Reviews

The study included systematic reviews (SRs) of RCTs and nRCTs, analyzing the impact of aquatic exercise on various health outcomes. It was found that aquatic exercise had small but statistically significant effects on pain relief and related outcome measurements for locomotor diseases, including arthritis, rheumatoid diseases, lower back pain, knee and hip osteoarthritis, poliomyelitis, chronic kidney disease, discomforts of pregnancy, cardiovascular diseases, and rotator cuff tears. These exercises also showed benefits in pain function, quality of life (QOL), and mental health​​.

Short-term vs. Long-term Effects

The study highlighted that the effects of aquatic exercise were predominantly short-term. Intervention periods in the studies ranged from 3 weeks to 12 months, reflecting the challenges in maintaining long-term participation in aquatic exercise RCTs. Consequently, the long-term effectiveness of aquatic exercise remains unclear​​.

Limitations and Conclusion

Despite the positive findings, the study had limitations, including selection criteria common to the source studies, potential biases in eligibility for participation, and publication bias. However, the conclusion drawn is that aquatic exercise can significantly impact pain relief and related outcome measurements for locomotor diseases. Patients engaging in aquatic exercise may become more active and experience improvements in their quality of life​​.

Keywords: aquatic exercise, health enhancement, evidence

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