Get all the benefits of an effective aqua-fitness program right in your own backyard. Working out in your above-ground swimming pool is a great way to realize the benefits of cardiovascular, toning and strengthening exercises. The water's low-gravity environment and built-in resistance makes shallow-water exercise an excellent choice for just about anyone, regardless of swimming ability.
Many aerobic exercises that can be done on land can also be done in the water. Running, walking and aerobic dance can easily be done in any above-ground pool with waist-deep or even shoulder-deep water. Movement can be from one side of the pool to the other, or you can travel the circumference of the pool, creating a current that you can then turn and move against for added resistance. Work both your upper and lower body as you walk or run by swinging your arms in the water and move through your workout. Increase calorie-burning potential by adding wrist and ankle weights.
Land-based exercises that incorporate resistance equipment or handheld weights can be done in the water to tone and strengthen the muscles in your arms and shoulders. Handheld aqua dumbbells can be used in the pool for biceps curls, lateral raises, reverse flys and front raises. Hang on to the side of the pool and lean forward in the water for triceps kickbacks and single-arm rows. Hand paddles or aqua gloves can help you take advantage of the water's natural resistance, and can be used in place of weights or during aerobic exercise for additional toning.
Grab a kickboard to work your legs, even if your pool isn’t very wide. You don’t need to be moving forward through the water to realize the benefits of kicking drills. Hang on to the kickboard as it pushes against the side of the pool and kick. The benefit of kicking this way, rather than hanging on to the side of the pool with your arms, is that it’s easier to keep your body in the correct position. For best results, kick from the hip with straight legs and pointed toes while keeping your ankles relaxed. For added resistance, try donning a pair of swim fins.
Duration and Intensity
How much time you spend in the water, and how hard you work to get that blood pumping and muscles moving, will determine the benefits you’ll realize from exercising in your above-ground pool. To fully realize the calorie-burning potential of an aerobic workout, you should exercise in the pool at a moderate pace for 150 minutes or at a vigorous pace for 75 minutes each week, according to the American Heart Association. As a rule of thumb, according to the AHA, work out for a at least 30 minutes each day, five days a week, for the best results.
- Beginner Triathlete: Shallow and Deep Water Running
- American Council on Exercise: Make a Splash with Water Exercise
- MayoClinic.com: Aerobic Exercise: Top 10 Reasons to Get Physical
- La Crosse YMCA: Components of Fitness/Definitions
- American Heart Association: American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults
Christy Ayala writes about recreation, sports, aquatics, healthy living, family and parenting, language development, organizational change, pets and animals. Ayala holds a master's degree in recreation administration from Aurora University’s George Williams College, a graduate certificate in organizational change from Hawaii Pacific University and a bachelor's degree in Spanish from the University of Missouri, St. Louis.