Creating an Aqua Arthritis Exercise Program

Tuesday, February 23 2021

Whether you teach arthritis classes, older adult programs or just want to make your water fitness instruction more joint friendly, this video and Fitmotivation online ed program showcases an AEA Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program lesson plan, including the essential class components and the arthritis exercises suitable for those components.

Similar to a fitness class, an Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program (AFAP) lesson plan includes a warm-up, main segment and cool down.  The main segment features essential components based on Arthritis Foundation (AF) recommendations. Armed with this lesson plan, all you have to do insert arthritis exercises into the template.  But first you need access to a library of these exercises. The AF Program Leader Manual provides a comprehensive description of all the exercises that can be used in an AFAP.  My goal was to include as many of these exercises as possible in order to prove to instructors how easy it is to prepare a class with AEA’s AF resources.

The Arthritis Spectrum
There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions. People of all ages, sexes and races can and do have arthritis, and it is the leading cause of disability in America. More than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have some type of arthritis. It is most common among women and occurs more frequently as people get older. Keep in mind, there are a myriad of fitness levels on the arthritis spectrum and this workout may be too strenuous for someone with debilitating symptoms, or not challenging enough for someone with a mild diagnosis

Exercise & Arthritis
Genetics, obesity, diet, injury and lack of exercise can all contribute to arthritis.  Suffice to say, lack of movement and a sedentary lifestyle are one of the leading causes of arthritis as people age.  Therefore, exercise is universally recommended for people who suffer from arthritis or want to prevent it.  Joints need to be moved through their full range of motion for optimal function and elasticity.  Arthritis exercises are designed to perform this function.  Daily activities are simply not enough to move a joint through its full range of motion.  This is what well planned exercise is designed to achieve. 

The Lesson Plan
Well planned exercise is best achieved when you have a lesson plan.  Designed to deliver results, the main segment of an AFAP features essential class components that include Flexibility & Range of Motion, Cardiorespiratory Endurance, Muscular Strength & Endurance and Balance & Coordination.   A balanced class with all of the essential components will provide optimal benefits for participants while achieving the goals of an AFAP.  Optional activities can be included in an AFAP lesson plan.  In the Water Exercise for Arthritis video, a short segment that targets core training is included as an optional activity

AEA Arthritis Foundation Resources
As mentioned above, putting it all together is simple when you have a structured lesson plan to follow.  AEA AF resources provide the lesson plan and all of the approved exercises to insert in the components of the lesson plan.  Completing my online AEA AF Program Leader course a few years ago was truly a game-changer in my teaching career.  All of my fitness classes (land & water) benefited from this continuing education. I don’t even teach arthritis classes, but I do add these exercises in all of my formats, including high intensity interval training (HIIT). The course also gave me the confidence and the resources to teach chair classes, which has become a favorite format of mine. If you are interested in the AF Program Leader online course or just in having access to the AF exercise library, consider one of the AEA resources below:
AEA AF Program Leader Manual  Excellent value for just $25.00 
AEA AFAP Class Resource Video Movement Library (DVD) - $18.99
AEA AFAP Program Leader Online Training Course - $129.00 
Be sure to bookmark the Arthritis section of AEA's website for a complete menu of AF resources.  And consider signing up for a virtual AF Program Leader course coming up on March 3 & 5, 2021. 

Video Music Links
If you liked the classical music used in this this video, the playlists, Classical Strength and Super Strings, are both available in Power Music's Virtual Category.  The music bpm was adjusted for this video, as detailed in the pool notes.

Fitmotivation Online Ed
Water Exercise for Arthritis also includes an optional (additional cost required) online quiz and 10-page educational handout worth 2.0 AEA CECs.  Check out details on Fitmotivation Online Education and all 23 courses available. 

At the very least, I hope this program helps you make your aquatic fitness classes more joint friendly by including AFAP exercises in them.  The class participants reap the benefits by improving and maintaining joint health.  Perhaps this program will encourage you to pursue your AEA Arthritis Foundation Program Leader certification.  The Baby Boomers are aging and having the Arthritis Foundation credentials can open doors and greatly benefit your career in the years to come.


Author: Mark Grevelding is the founder of Fitmotivation. He is also a training specialist and consultant with the Aquatic Exercise Association’s (AEA). Mark has been active in the fitness industry for 22 years as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, international presenter and a continuing education provider for AEA, AFAA & ACE.