Question: I am writing to you today for advice regarding the correct water temperatures for swimming pool and therapeutic pools and room temperatures. Our pool water is being kept from 87-88F in the swimming pool where most of the clients having therapy are immobile; it's uncomfortable for most of us. Thank you in advance for your help. Patricia C.
Answer: Although the term therapeutic pool is used quite often, there is really no one temperature for all diagnoses. While 94F might be perfect for the acutely painful patient who is unable to exercise aerobically, it would be stiffling for the athlete. Check out the resources below to find the perfect temperature for your setting.
It depends on the usage, but most therapy pools run 88-95 degrees F with an air temperature near 87 degrees. Typically, you want the air temperature warmer than the water temperature until you hit 87 degrees Fahrenheit (water temperature).
Once you get that warm, the air temperature stays around 87 unless you work with your HVA technicians to ensure that you are not going to create artificial dew points inside the building.
Here are 4 sources to examine.
The AEA has a Standards and Guidelines document (click on link) which outlines their suggestions for selecting water temperatures for various activities.
Bruce Becker's articles (available as PDF online; use link above) discusses the changes that occur in the body with immersion in different temperatures.
USA Swimming has an article online (click link) that discusses ideal water temperature and depth for different types of pools -- including lap swim pools, recreational pools and therapy pools.
And finally, this is a link to a previous posting about air temperature. It has some additional links you might find helpful.