Many people see water as a place for recreation or fitness, but it might not occur to them as readily that water is an excellent place for rehabilitation. If you’ve suffered an injury or have chronic arthritis or osteoporosis, then it’s you discover aquatics and what it can do to give you back functionality and freedom.

“Aquatics” is an umbrella term describing all kinds of water activities, including water aerobics, swimming, sports, strength training, and more. To qualify as aquatics, the key is simply that the exercise takes place in the water—it doesn’t necessarily have to be unique to water. After all, you can jog on the sidewalk or a track, but you can also jog in the water.

So, what sorts of benefits do you get from performing water exercise that you can’t get on dry land? For one thing, water allows you to exercise without overly stressing your joints, bones, and muscles. Many injuries make it extremely painful or challenging to exercise normally, but the buoyancy force of water counteracts gravity and lessens impact. This is especially useful when it comes to high-impact exercises like jogging.

Another plus to discover in aquatics is the resistance water provides to simple movements. There’s simply nothing like water as a total-body resistance force. Something as simple as walking requires more effort in water, because you’re displacing water when you move instead of air. If you have a knee or ankle injury, for example, you can gently walk without inflaming the injury and rebuild strength just by moving through the water. Out of the water, this would be virtually impossible.

Stress is a major inflammatory response to injury, and inflammation isn’t good for healing the injury or for your general well-being. Going to the pool or spa and relaxing in the water is actually a viable form of rehab. Holistic workouts like yoga and Pilates can be strenuous, but they can also be gentle, focusing more on the mind/body connection than on building muscle or doing an intense workout. Depending on your injury or condition, the best thing for you might be relaxation and stress relief.

Regardless of the reason for your rehabilitation, the lessened effect of gravity and stress on the joints can only help you recover better. You’ll be able to perform exercises longer without overheating, thanks to the thermal properties of water. Plus, with the cushion of water on problematic areas in your body, you can do your workouts around them and keep up your general health and fitness. One of the worst things that happens to rehab patients is that lack of exercise hurts their overall health, when before they were suffering only from the injury.

Due to the relaxing and pleasant nature of water, it’s great for relaxation. Due to the effects of buoyancy, people with injuries can perform their exercises more easily and with greatly reduced risk of further damage. Due to the resistance of water, small movements that wouldn’t help on land can do wonders for rehab patients, meaning that they can start slow and work their way up to more challenging workouts. People with all different conditions and backgrounds have found that when they discover aquatics, they can finally start getting better. Now it’s your turn.