This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Generations Magazine.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 33 percent of adults 65 and older suffer from osteoarthritis (OA). Mayo Clinic reports that OA is the most common form of arthritis, when protective cartilage wears down, creating “wear-and- tear” pain, discomfort and fatigue.

Aquatic therapy is an effective treatment for OA, giving patients improved mobility, reduced pain and greater flexibility. You might think exercise at a high intensity level would exacerbate the pain.

Not so.

A recent groundbreaking study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, demonstrated the benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on an underwater treadmill. For six weeks, subjects with OA walked in water, against alternating high and low resistance.

Training resulted in significantly less joint pain, improved balance, better mobility. Walking speed was nearly as fast as control subjects without arthritis. Aquatic exercise gave benefits and relief that individuals with OA would not be able to achieve on land.

A growing body of clinical research proves aquatic therapy for osteoarthritis may be more effective than alternative land-based exercise.