It is becoming more and more apparent that wellbeing needs to be looked at in a holistic manner, taking into account physical and psychological wellbeing. And although, the physical benefits of exercise are highly publicised, it is important to realise that physical activity can also have large positive impacts on mental wellbeing and happiness.

One such physical therapy, that can help boost levels of psychological wellbeing, is Immersion Therapy. As you might know by now, Immersion Therapy is based on the tenants of the biopsychosocial model which allows people with disability, to find movement, activity and weightlessness in an underwater environment. It helps people to move their bodies in ways they are often limited and engage in activities which can also increase their heart rate.

The first two scientific studies to examine the relationship between objectively measured physical activity and mental health in older adults, both found that total physical energy expenditure, measured by accelerometers, is positively correlated with indices of global psychological well-being (e.g., satisfaction with life; Study) as well as lower negative mood scores (e.g., anger, anxiety, depression; Study). Therefore, it is apparent that by being exposed to levels of physical activity, participants would not be able to get on land, they are opening themselves up to the many benefits of exercise and can in turn boost their wellbeing.

These benefits where again highlighted in a study, which looked at the impact of yoga on subjective well-being and stress, by looking at a sample of 60 people. It measured the findings with the perceived stress scale and Subjective Well-being Scale. The results were conclusive, showing that the physical activity of yoga positively impacted variables of subjective well-being and stress.

In addition, during sessions of Immersion Therapy, participants are actively engaged in games and free play activities. Research has also shown that play can positively impact an individual’s overall wellbeing, engagement and subjective happiness.

Immersion Therapy has recently linked up with UniSA and the Lifetime Support Authority, using a case study approach, to show individual responses to the therapy with regular participation, over a 12-week period. The aim of the project is to inform a larger intervention, directing future research and determine suitability of a wide range of instruments and measures. It also aims to demonstrate the surprising results of Immersion Therapy on a qualitative level, looking at evidence of psychosocial and physiological benefits of participation.

The research will primarily aim to pilot a number of psychosocial and physiological measures to capture the acute and chronic response to Immersion Therapy in clients presenting with a range of medical conditions and/or disability. From these outcomes, we will also be able to report any measurable benefits from participation at an individual level.