Working out in the water is one of the most therapeutic activities one can take part in. Water aerobics builds cardio, strength and resistance all while being easy on the joints and in a cool and relaxing atmosphere! Here are the top 10 benefits of water aerobics.
It increases muscle strength, build’s endurance, increases flexibility, is a low-impact exercise, and alleviates pressure on the joints. It also relieves stress and decreases anxiety, burns calories as well as body fat, reduces blood pressure, increases circulation and it is FUN!
If you’re overweight or obese, elderly, have arthritis, joint pain, osteoporosis, or an injury that makes weight-bearing exercise difficult or painful, water may be an excellent choice. Swimming or walking in water reduces the pressure on your back and knees.1 According to Kathy Stevens of WebMD:
“To appreciate why water training works so well, you need to understand water’s unique properties. In water, you have almost no gravity. You’re relieved of 90 percent of your body weight, so you become buoyant. This frees you to move in new ways.
You can float, bob and relax without feeling like you’re putting out an effort. Yet water provides 12 to 14 percent more resistance than air, so moving through it is like having weights all around your body.”
Research shows that people who water exercise can burn as much body fat and build as much muscle as those who engage in land-based exercise programs.
Dr. Martin Juneau, director of prevention at the Montreal Heart Institute, said water exercise might be even more efficient from a cardiorespiratory standpoint, because your heart rate stays a little lower in the water. Dr. Juneau explains:
“You pump more blood for each beat, so don’t need as many heartbeats, because the pressure of the water on your legs and lower body makes the blood return more effectively to the heart. That’s interesting data that hasn’t been studied thoroughly before.”
According to the American Council on Exercise, during a water workout, your heart rate will be reduced by as much as 17 beats per minute compared to a land workout, so be sure to keep this in mind if you use your heart rate to gauge your intensity. According to the American Council on Exercise, during a water workout, your heart rate will be reduced by as much as 17 beats per minute compared to a land workout, so be sure to keep this in mind if you use your heart rate to gauge your intensity.
Deep water running (aka aqua jogging) is a super-intense water workout that’s different and more vigorous than typical water exercises. With your body in ordinary running form, you run in the deep end of a pool with the aid of a flotation belt or vest—your feet never touch the bottom. Deep water running is good for rehab and athletic training, as it’s high-intensity with zero impact, so it can allow you to recover from an injury without losing fitness.
One popular aqua training device is the AquaJogger, made from EVA foam, but almost any flotation vest or belt will work. As you move your arms and legs against the resistance of the water you will get a great cardiovascular as well as strength training workout. Proper body mechanics are as important in water as on dry land—just because you’re in a pool doesn’t mean you can’t injure yourself.14 The most important things to remember when deep water running are:
- Keep you body upright, and use good running form—shoulders back and eyes looking toward the horizon
- Try to use your feet to kick the water behind you
- Don’t paddle with your hands—keep your fists loosely closed and use your legs to move you forward
- Intensify your workout by swinging your arms higher, or shorter and faster, or by taking quicker strides
- As a variation, you can use a cross country skiing movement
Keep these things in mind when working out in the water:
Buoyancy supports your body and allows you to make larger movements than you can on land.
Water depth should be between waist and chest high. In shallower water, there is more impact on your joints, and in deeper water, you will lose balance and form (unless you’re doing deep water running, of course)
Wear shoes to protect your feet if you’re in a natural water body and unsure of the substrate
Intensity increases as you increase the size and speed of your movements; remember that your heart rate will be roughly 10 to 20 percent lower when exercising in water, so you’ll need to listen to your body adjust your target heart rate accordingly
Sculling and downward movements of the hands create balance and control.
Before you start using resistance devices (webbed hand mitts, noodles, balls, barbells, or bands), make sure you are balancing your arms and legs to help coordinate and stabilize your movements
For good muscle balance, move in a way that works the body in all planes while maintaining proper body alignment.
To maintain alignment, keep your abdominals tight to support a long, upright spine and tuck your hips slightly under (particularly when moving backward).
Drink plenty of fluid to avoid dehydration, which you may not notice because you’re not feeling or seeing the effects of sweat or body heat.
Water exercise should not be painful; this is a new exercise, so listen to your body.
Try working out with a friend for safety and encouragement, and add music.
Blog: Gina Palermo MacFarland