"I'm doing everything," Joan says with pride. "I'm using all the large muscle groups. I do a lot of weights with the arms. You're getting a real workout." That's an achievement for Joan since she suffers from multiple sclerosis. And her "real workouts" are possible because she dips into the Endless Pools® WaterWell® in her home.
Her pool workouts deliver results too. "When I last saw my neurologist," Joan recounts, "she said, 'You really have good muscle tone and strong muscles, despite the fact that you have MS.' I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I do use them, and I can use them in the water. That makes a big difference."
A Rare Diagnosis
"About 8 years ago," Joan recalls, "I started noticing that, when I was walking, my right leg landed heavily." Due to her accompanying back pain, her orthopedist diagnosed her with a herniated disc, "so I had back surgery which ended up doing nothing."
"My walking just kept getting worse, so I went to see a neurologist. I was diagnosed with PPMS, Primary Progressive MS," which is a rare form of multiple sclerosis in which there are no relapses or remissions. PPMS is the diagnosis in only 15 percent of multiple sclerosis cases.
Since Joan has PPMS, she says "My walking's never going to get better unless they figure out something to do about the loss of myelin [the fatty substance that insulates our nerves] that happens with MS. The goal is to slow down the progression as much as possible, so that's why I continue to exercise."
And given her condition, exercise is possible – and convenient – in the water of her WaterWell therapy pool.
A Dream Come True
Before Joan ever heard of Endless Pools, she recalls, "I said to my kids, 'You know what I want? I want a pool in my house.' I thought, 'Yeah! That's not realistic unless you have tons of money. That wasn't going to really happen.' Then we came across this, and this is exactly what I'd been looking for."
The "this" she refers to is the Endless Pools WaterWell therapy pool. "We didn't know there was such a thing as the WaterWell," she says. "My husband and I, independently of each other, went online and discovered Endless Pools and then discovered that they had these WaterWells. I thought, 'Wow! This is what I've been looking for.'
"What I'd been doing mostly at the Y was exercise that was more upright; it wasn't necessarily swimming. The WaterWell is perfect because I can do everything I want to do in here except swim laps, and I'm totally fine with that."
Taking Control & Living Life
With MS, it's common for heat to worsen symptoms. That's why the National Multiple Sclerosis Society recommends water temperatures under 85 degrees F for aquatic therapy. But Joan, who has a rare form of MS, finds that 91 degrees is the sweet spot.
"Everyone else who gets in it says, 'Yeah, this is the perfect temperature.' No one thinks it's too warm. My husband uses it regularly. I have some friends who have physical limitations and they come over and use it. The rest of my family uses it, my friends and my brothers in law, the grandkids, and everyone likes that temperature.
"I have two friends who've had aches and pains, who've had different physical ailments, so they come over fairly regularly and use it.
"The other people who use it the most are the grandkids. They range in age from 8 to 3. The first thing they do when they get to our house is throw their bathing suits on and get in the pool. They really love it!
"My husband and I exercise in it together sometimes. It's a nice thing to do together as a couple. We have a TV down there if we want to watch something. These are our date nights! Go down to the pool and watch a movie or something."
To help keep your commitment to exercise, experts suggest that you keep it fresh. Of her workouts, Joan says, "I wouldn't really call it a routine." She still does some exercises on land, but "pretty much every other day," she improvises a workout in her WaterWell therapy pool.
"I use the foam dumbbells; I do a lot of those with arms." To maximize her upper-body exercise, she chose a deeper model WaterWell "because I wanted as much of my body as possible to be in the water. I'm like 5'7" or something like that. I wanted it to be as high up on the chest as possible. I'm really glad we did that."
For her lower body, Joan does "jogging in place, a lot of jumping jacks, different types of jumping jacks. It's really nice to be able to move my legs like I used to be able to on land. I can do it in water because of the buoyancy."
Of her WaterWell, Joan says, "I still am very pleased that I have this, and I think it's good that I am able to get the aerobic benefit and keep the muscles tone. This is a way I can do that easily and enjoyably and comfortably.
The Pool Downstairs
What makes Joan's pool workouts and quality time with family possible is one thing: access. With Endless Pools' modular design, she was able to have her WaterWell therapy pool installed in their existing basement.
"I wanted to have something that I know I will use regularly because it's so convenient that there's no reason why I wouldn't want to get in. It's perfect!"