Resources Library

ePublication of Australian Fitness Network

Title: Water Exercise
Authors: Melissa Layne
Publisher: Human Kinetics Australia 2015, ISBN: 9781450498142
Details: Paperback, 248pp
RRP: $29.95 OR $25.46 for Network Members when buying online HERE and entering the Promo Code network15.

Review by Peter Lawler

This ageing reviewer has had three operations on the same hip since 2008. Following surgery, recovery consists of tedious, restrictive gym exercises which bore the brain leaving great holes in the cranium. The second component makes life worth reliving – water therapy: a miraculous medium for all – the sacred Ganges! If I have to face surgery again, this book Water Exercise will be my bible, an invaluable resource. Why has there been such minimal print of aquatic therapy and fitness?
Melissa Layne has a master’s degree in exercise physiology and several fitness certifications from the Aquatic Exercise Association and the Fitness Association of America. She is currently a staff member of the physical education department at the University of North Georgia.

Water Exercise has four parts. One must assume that all exercises highlighted in this new book are performed in a still water pool of tapered depth. There is nothing to fear regarding sharks or tidal swamping. No sand in the costume to irritate the vitals. The basics of water training include buoyancy, which is essential for diminishing high impact. If one was to stand in water up to the collar-bone, the impact on the bones is reduced by 90 per cent. Next is hydrostatic pressure. This is defined as the pressure exerted by a fluid on an object. In this case, water pressure equally distributed over the entire body. Its impact is particularly beneficial in reducing joint swelling. The third issue is viscosity. This is the thickness of the water which provides resistance to all movements. The faster the movement, the higher the resistance countered by good ‘ole H2O. The aquatic ‘drag’ requires a muscular force 12 to 15 times that required through air!

So, back to the four parts of this fabulous book. Part II is choosing your exercises. One of the essentials of training for recovery is progression (every rehab hospital should follow suit.) Four chunky chapters present a vast array of exercises that traverse from the beginner to intermediate to the advanced to the deep water at the other end of the pool. As with all Human Kinetics publications, every exercise is depicted and supported by the customary format that never wilts. On this occasion, the format is: what equipment is required, the focus of each exercise, starting position, description of each action, what variations are available and finally, safety issues (the primal message is ‘don’t drown’!)

The sequencing is outstanding. The advanced exercises are physically and technically challenging. Beginners would be appreciative there is a path to progress and fruition following their slow, cautious beginning. Obviously, the deep water work requires flotation devices. The pool noodle cops a hiding.

Part III is ‘Exercises for Common Injuries and Conditions.’ True to its name, this section identifies therapeutic exercises that attack ‘conditions’ located in the ankle, knee and hips, the spine, shoulder joint, and the elbow and wrist. The therapy chapters are roughly ten pages in length. Within each, the author discusses the target area, how the joint works and what injurious damage may be done. What follows is the recommended therapeutic pool exercises for rehabilitation.

Part IV features the water exercise programs that cater for basic water fitness, advanced cross training and something absolutely wonderful – what can be done for sufferers of multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. The answer: water therapy is as good as any and better than most.


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