For those with disabilities, water-based exercises can be a great way to improve mental and physical well-being. Research strongly suggests using water-based exercises to improve an individual’s physical functions and overall well-being. MCCS Semper Fit aquatic facilities offer a variety of accessible entries, including lifts, ramps, stairs, and the ever-popular “jump in.” These ensure that everyone can join in, whether it’s for fun or to assist in overall well-being. Aquatics programs reduce stress and anxiety, improve the ability to concentrate, and may lead to greater confidence.

Aquatics professionals across the Marine Corps have training in special techniques for individuals with disabilities. Many children with disabilities, particularly those who have Autism Spectrum Disorder, also experience sensory integration disorder, meaning that they have difficulty interpreting, processing, and responding to sensory input. The hydrostatic pressure of the water acts like a weighted blanket that surrounds the person’s entire body and puts equal pressure on all submerged parts. This sensation may help them concentrate and organize other sensory input, giving them the confidence to move physically and try new movements.

Participation in aquatic programs is also recommended for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and cerebral palsy. The buoyancy of water makes it easier to move more effectively and safely by decreasing a person’s effective weight by 90 percent. This allows muscles to relax in order to move and exercise more freely in the water without placing undue stress on the musculoskeletal system.

The next time you’re planning a family outing, think about getting your whole family in the water. Contact your local MCCS Semper Fit Aquatics program for accessible programs and resources for your family.