You might like to exercise, but you don't like to sweat. If that describes you, a water workout is the solution. You get to work hard, increase your heart rate, burn calories, improve strength and flexibility, and elevate your mood. You will sweat, but you won't know it because you're covered with water. This liquid environment is a challenging workout for all body types while keeping you impact-free.
You do not need the ability to swim for a shallow aerobic workout. Your feet remain on the bottom of the pool throughout the exercise session. The effects of gravity are reduced in water and with water up to your chest, you'll carry about 35 percent of your body weight, making exercises such as running, jumping, leaping and kicking easy. Shallow water techniques include a variety of movements. Move forward, backward, sideways and up and down to challenge your muscles. Include cardiovascular exercises such as jumping jacks, sprints, walks, front kicks, side shuffles and grapevines to increase your heart rate.
Being comfortable in the water is required for deep water workouts even though you're held up with a flotation belt. In water up to your neck, you carry approximately 10 percent of your body weight, which reduces the impact on your spine, hips, knees and ankles. Even though the water reduces impact, it provides resistance. Regardless of the way you move, you push against water and your muscles respond. Deep water aerobic techniques include movements such as twists, bike pedals, kicks, frog jumps, high knees and flutter kicks.
Aqua aerobics classes also include strength training. You use water dumbbells or paddles for resistance. The exercises are similar to those you do on land. Movements such as arm curls, arm extensions, chest cross-overs, shoulder raises and pull downs, and pushups improve your upper body strength. An effective water workout also includes core strengthening exercises. Some of these are performed from a standing position such as side bends and torso rotations. Others are performed floating on your back for an abdominal crunch, floating twist or side crunch.
The water enhances flexibility by allowing your joints a greater range of motion. Stretches that you may find difficult on land become easier in the water. Include flexibility movements for your major muscle groups. Place your arms behind your back to stretch your chest and then float your arms forward to stretch your back. Lift one leg and set your foot on the wall of the pool as you lean toward your leg to stretch your hamstrings. Stand near a wall and place your toes up the wall with your heels on the floor to stretch your calves.
- Aquatic Exercise Association: The Water Well
- Arthritis Foundation: Water Exercise
- American Council on Exercise: Make a Splash with Water Fitness
- "Aqua Fitness"; Mimi Rodriguez Adami
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.