Many, many years ago, in fitness centers far, far away, you could hear the old saying "No pain. No gain." Thank goodness this isn't true anymore. You don't have to experience pain to restore your old muscle loss. You can experience the soothing joint-protecting properties of water exercise as you increase your muscular strength.
The water completely surrounds you with liquid resistance. Every way you move in the water, you move against the weight of the water. Your muscles contract as you push and pull your arms, legs and torso across the pool. Compared with land, your muscles work in pairs. When you bend your arms, your biceps contract to push up your hand through the water. Then, when you straighten your arms, your triceps contract to push down your hand through the water. You reduce your workout time and improve your muscle tissue.
Water aerobics uses full-body movements such as walking, running, jumping, knee lifts and grapevines to elevate your heart rate and improve your muscular strength and endurance. Whether your feet are on the bottom of the pool, or if you're suspended by a floatation belt, your muscles respond to every movement. Water aerobics also uses resistance-training tools such as water dumbbells to specifically target your muscle tissue and rebuild that strength you lost.
As you improve your strength with water exercise, you also reduce the impact on your joints. The water provides buoyancy, which reduces gravity's pull on your joints. You experience less joint discomfort as you move your muscles through full ranges of motion. Also, since water provides the resistance on both sides, you train your muscles equally for balances in strength. When the muscles on the fronts and backs of your legs, for example, are of balanced strength, you reduce your risk of knee injuries.
Running is an aerobic exercise that can be performed in deep water, outside or on a treadmill. Researchers at Fukuoka Prefectural University in Japan studied the differences in muscular response between deep-water and treadmill running. The muscles on the fronts and backs of the upper legs showed similar responses. The calves were slightly less in the deep water because you're not pushing off the ground to move forward. Deep-water aerobics is also a good option for restoring old muscle loss in the legs.
- American Council on Exercise: Make a Splash with Water Fitness
- Fantastic Water Workouts; MaryBeth Pappas Baun
- Aquatic Exercise Association: Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Exercise in Water
- International Journal of Sports Medicine: Muscle Activity During Running in Water and on Dry Land: Matched Physiology; Masumoto, et al.
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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