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USU Research: Water Treadmill Training Shows Promising Results

Thursday, Aug. 07, 2014

a USU graduate student and water treadmill research participant

A graduate student works with a study participant. The aquatic treadmill research took place at the John Worley Sports Medicine Research Center at Utah State University.

water treadmill participant in the pool

The benefits of high intensity interval training on the aquatic treadmill came without adverse effects, other than mile to moderate muscle fatigue.

Research from Utah State University shows that intervals of high intensity training on a water treadmill significantly benefited people with osteoarthritis.

In fact, the benefits outweighed those derived from other forms of land-based exercise — probably because the study participants could receive a good workout without fear of falling or putting too much strain on their joints. What’s more, the pain experienced by the study subjects was significantly reduced.

The results were so encouraging, some study subjects didn’t want it to end.

“To this day I have people asking me if they could participate again in aquatic treadmill research,” said Eadric Bressel, the study’s lead author and a professor at the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department in the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services.

Bressel said he runs into former study subjects in grocery stores and on campus, and they want to come back for more.

For now, the training at USU remains part of a research program, so its availability to the public is limited.

“It is possible that people who do not have access to an aquatic treadmill may still derive the benefits in a traditional pool environment by engaging in high intensity efforts for 30 seconds to three minutes,” said Bressel. “However, our research did not test this mode of aquatic exercise.”

Research shows that high intensity interval training may have additional health benefits when compared to traditional moderate exercise, he said — whether the person who does the workout has osteoarthritis or not.

The study was funded by the National Swimming Pool Foundation and published this month [August 2014] in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. It found that its participants experienced significantly less joint pain, improved balance and better mobility after participating in a six-week exercise regimen. After the completion of the six weeks, participants’ walking speed was nearly identical to that of people without arthritis.

These benefits came without adverse effects, other than mild to moderate muscle fatigue.

The article can be found online or in the August issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Additional study authors are Jessica Wing and Dennis Dolny of Utah State University and Andrew Miller of Arizona State University.

Related links:

Contact: Eadric Bressel,

Writer:  JoLynne Lyon, 435-797-1463

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