Effectiveness of Deep Water Running on Improving Cardiorespiratory Fitness, Physical Function and Quality of Life: A Systematic Review

Man Ying Kwok, Chun Lung So (Corresponding Author), Sophie Heywood, Cheuk Yiu Lai, Sheung Mei Shamay Ng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Deep Water Running (DWR) is a form of aquatic aerobic exercise simulating the running patterns adopted on dry land. Little is known on the effectiveness of DWR despite gaining popularity. The objective of this study is to systematically review the effect of DWR on cardiorespiratory fitness, physical functions, and quality of life in healthy individuals. A systematic search was completed using six databases, including SPORTDiscus, MEDLINE, CINAHL, AMED, Embase, and The Cochrane Library up to Feb 2022. Eleven clinical trials evaluating effectiveness of DWR in cardiorespiratory fitness, physical function, or quality of life (QoL), compared with no interventions (or standard treatment) or land-based trainings were identified. Data relevant to the review questions were extracted by two independent reviewers when means and standard deviations were reported, standardized mean differences were calculated. Quality assessment was conducted using selected items from the Downs and Black checklist. A total of 11 clinical trials (seven randomized controlled trials) with a total of 287 participants were included. Meta-analyses were not completed due to the high level of clinical and statistical heterogeneity between studies. Compared with land-based training, DWR showed similar effect in cardiorespiratory fitness with limited studies reporting outcomes of physical function and quality of life or compared with no exercise control group. DWR appears to be comparable to land-based training for improving cardiorespiratory fitness. The aquatic environment may provide some advantages for off-loaded exercise at high intensity in populations that are weak, injured or in pain but more studies are required.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022

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