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HealthInfo Canterbury

Water-based exercises

Ngā kori tinana ā-wai

Older lady enjoying water exercise Water-based exercises are a great way to help you get better from an injury or live with a long-term condition. They are also a great way to start to be more active.

Exercises you find difficult to do on land are easier in water due to buoyancy, which makes you float, and other water properties.

Water-based exercises are similar to hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy is when a physiotherapist gives you exercises in specially designed pools of a certain depth and temperature. But you can do the exercises in the four sheets on this page yourself, in any pool.

The exercises can help with pain reduction, joint mobility, overall fitness, feeling happier, and making it easier to do everyday activities.

If you have an unstable health condition, talk to your GP before starting the exercises.

Warm up and cool down handout

Warm up and cool down exercises

Fitness exercise sheet

Fitness exercises

Lower body exercise sheet

Lower body – joint mobility and strength exercises

Upper body exercise sheet

Upper body – joint mobility and strength exercises

Where to do water-based exercises

You can do the exercises in your own pool, or at a public pool.

Don't go to a public pool if:

There are laminated copies of the four water-based exercise sheets at the following Christchurch City Council Pools and Recreation centres:

When you arrive at one of these pools, tell the life guard you’re there to do the water-based exercises using the sheets. They will show you where it's safest to do them. You can bring your own copy of the sheets to any other pool where you would like to do the exercises.


It costs the same to do these exercises at a public pool as normal use of the pool. You can get a discounted rate by buying a concession card. If you have a disability, you might be eligible for the Christchurch City Council KiwiAble card which gives a discounted entry to Canterbury-region pools and facilities. Find if you're eligible via the council website.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created September 2019. Last updated October 2019.

Page reference: 658712

Review key: HIKEA-53695