It has been well-established that resistance training improves muscular strength and physical capacity. Other health-related benefits include reduction of body fat and improvement in blood lipids. In addition to traditional isotonic resistance training (free weights, machines), elastic bands and aquatic resistance can be used for strengthening exercises. Research shows that elastic resistance produces the same gains in strength as more expensive weight machines; however, elastic resistance has never been directly compared to aquatic resistance in terms of effectiveness.
Researchers in Spain compared Thera-Band® elastic band strengthening to aquatic strengthening including Aquafins® aquatic training in a group of post-menopausal women. The subjects were randomly assigned to the elastic, aquatic, or non-exercising control group. The 24 week periodized program used the OMNI scale for perceived exertion to ensure both groups trained at the same intensity. Each group performed the same exercises with different types of resistance. After the training program, both the elastic and aquatic groups equally improved their body composition (12-15% reduction in body fat), blood pressure (6-8% reduction), physical capacity (13-52% improvement) and blood chemistry (11% increase in HDL) compared to the control group.
These results confirm that both dry land and aquatic training are effective and beneficial in middle-aged women. This information is particularly useful given the potential increase in aquatic exercise as the aging population increases. For example, older adults with arthritis may better tolerate a strengthening program with less impact in water, and Thera-Band elastic resistance offers more convenient and less expensive access to resistance training.