Benefits of Water Immersion Therapy to the Cardiovascular System
Scientific findings by the National Aquatics & Sports Medicine Institute and others show that immersion to the neck, as is experienced in a hot tub, causes a shift in blood volume, moving it from the body’s extremities to the chest area. This shift increases the amount of blood in the heart. Consequently, this additional blood in the heart improves heart function by increasing the volume of blood that each heart beat actually pumps through the circulatory system. In effect, the heart becomes more efficient while a person is in the water, pumping more blood with the same amount of effort.
Immersion in hot tubs also decreases resistance in the circulatory system making it easier for blood to flow through the arteries and veins. This effect, combined with the increased volume of blood pumped by the heart during immersion, means that the cardiovascular system operates much more efficiently during hydrotherapy.
Since water allows the heart to operate with less effort, immersing one’s self in a pool or hot tub is like giving the heart a rest. Physicians like Dr. Becker see this discovery as an opportunity for developing water therapy applications for those who have suffered heart damage due to heart attacks and other diseases. For the general healthy population, relaxing in water is probably an effective way to limit stress on the heart for a period of time, helping it to remain healthy and strong for the long run.