By Rob Santos
In the world of increased health awareness and lifestyle enhancements, fitness spas, also known as swim spas, continue to be a popular choice among consumers seeking a hot tub for hydrotherapy, health, physical therapy and rehabilitation purposes. As their popularity increases, manufacturers remain focused on incorporating features into their fitness spas, which address various health issues and provide soothing alternatives to both physical and sleep therapy, in addition to rehabilitation. Today, fitness spas are not only backyard aquatic gyms; they are machines for improving health and overall quality of life.
Alternative to traditional exercise
Studies show frequent exercise offers many health benefits, including an improved cardiovascular system, which reduces the risk of many health problems and increases muscular strength and balance. However, many people find it hard to incorporate the local gym into their busy schedule. With a fitness spa, however, health-conscious consumers have access to a complete aquatic gym in the comfort of their own backyard. The compact design and portability of these spas make them a great alternative for consumers who are thinking about installing an inground pool for health or rehabilitative purposes.
To assist in exercise, the majority of manufacturers have incorporated attachment points into the fitness spa’s design for water-based exercise equipment. This often includes an adjustable belt feature, with resistance bands for walking, jogging or running in place to allow users of any fitness level to perform a variety of low-impact exercises.
Fitness spas provide an alternative for many people who find traditional methods of exercise (e.g. treadmills or weight lifting) uncomfortable. For example, manufacturers have created underwater versions of the popular treadmill for consumers who enjoy this type of exercise. Underwater treadmills offer a similar exercise experience, with the added benefit of greater resistance, which allows users to burn more calories and build more strength. This type of exercise is also gentler on the body due to the water’s buoyancy, which helps take pressure off joints, muscles and bones.
Further, since fitness spas can conveniently be set to a desired temperature, an underwater treadmill can be used during any season, while also offering a more comfortable workout experience for the user.
Physical therapy and rehabilitation
In addition to providing aquatic exercise benefits, fitness spas are also designed to be used as a method of physical therapy or rehabilitation. In fact, fitness spas are gaining popularity among those recovering from injuries or those with physical limitations, as the water’s buoyancy provides a number of options for low-impact therapy routines, which cannot be performed on land.
For those with injuries, studies have shown low-impact aquatic therapy can lead to a rapid and more permanent recovery. Today, many therapists recommend aquatic therapy for patients with spinal cord injuries, fibromyalgia, cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis. Aquatic therapy has also shown to improve kidney functionality and contribute to reducing stress, blood pressure and risk of physical injury.
Certified personal trainers (CPTs) and rehabilitation centres often use fitness spas to improve the strength and cardiovascular health of patients suffering from joint or bone diseases, such as arthritis or osteoporosis. They provide an effective way for those suffering from arthritis to build strength, increase flexibility, ease tired muscles and relax stiff joints, as the aquatic environment greatly reduces the force of gravity on the body and relieves constant pressure on joints and muscles.
Aquatic exercise has been proven to be more effective than traditional exercise in helping people with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, doctors recommend arthritis patients soak in warm water to help relieve pain prior to starting their daily activities. Fitness spas can also temporarily relieve stiffness and joint aches, increasing overall flexibility.
Similar to traditional hot tubs, studies have shown fitness spas can help improve the sleep process, since hydrotherapy before bedtime may assist in getting a more restful, full night of sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends soaking in hot water before sleeping due to the associated calming effects. When exiting the spa, the body’s internal thermostat drops and signals the brain that it is time to go to sleep. Both effects result in waking up refreshed without the feeling of grogginess sleep aids can leave behind.
When used regularly, fitness spas can also improve blood circulation, relieve stress and relax the body, which can also lead to improved sleeping patterns.