Underwater treadmills aren’t just for rehabilitation centers; they can be purchased for home use as well. Once used to treat horses recovering from injuries, the underwater treadmill is now making a big splash with those in sports medicine, rehabilitation and fitness training for people with chronic conditions, such as arthritis, and acute conditions, such as sports injuries.

While water exercise has long been promoted as therapeutic, a unique combination of water exercise and traditional treadmill exercise takes water therapy to a new level. Because the treadmill is on the pool floor, your body is submerged anywhere from waist to shoulder level, depending on the pool depth and your height, making you anywhere from 50 to 90 percent weightless. With the weight off your joints, you are able to get a good cardiovascular workout without generating pain.

Kelly Eckhols, physical therapist and owner of Premier Rehab in North Richland, Texas, saw Bettye Steele, 73, of Hurst, Texas, one of her rheu­matoid arthritis patients, progress from using a wheelchair to using a walker in about a week, convincing Eckhols that it can be very useful for people with arthritis to walk underwater.