The Best Exercises for Water and Pool Workouts

Aquatic exercise provides strength, aerobic and flexibility training.
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Looking to spice up your exercise routine with some water fun? Because water surrounds your body, it affects movement in every direction, providing a playful combination of buoyancy and resistance. If you increase your range of motion and speed as you move through the water, you can increase flexibility, achieve balanced strength training and raise your heart rate for a great all-around workout. Compound exercises that move more than one joint and work more than one muscle are the most effective water exercises.

Rocking Horse

    Step your right forward, your left foot back, and center your weight evenly between both feet. Keep your feet in this position throughout. Rock your torso forward and bring your arms to the surface in front of you so your weight shifts over the right leg. Lift your left heel behind you up toward your rear end. Then step down on your left leg and shift your weight back over it while bringing your right knee up toward your chest and your hands down to your sides. To increase the workload and the fun, extend your limbs. This will create longer levers and allow you to hang suspended in the water through the rocking phase. Repeat until you are fatigued, then step your left leg forward.

Cross Country

    Lunge forward with one foot, keeping your weight centered between the front foot and the back one. Jump up, bringing your feet off the pool floor, and switch the position of your feet by swinging the back foot forward and the front foot backward. As you do this, swing your arms in a pendulum motion past your hips. When your left leg moves forward, your right arm should swing up in front of your body and the left arm will swing backward, and vice versa. Repeat this cross country skiing motion to fatigue.

Power Jumping Jacks

    Submerge your body so your shoulders are water level. Spread your arms and legs out to the sides. With your arms floating on the surface, hang suspended in the water and pull your legs together, bending your knees and crossing your ankles at the center. Then open your legs back out to the sides. Keep your body submerged. Don't jump, but rather pull and push against the water. Once you are comfortable with the leg movement, add your arms, pulling them in with the legs to meet at the center, then pushing them out to the sides. For variation you can alternate power jumping jacks with regular jumping jacks, jumping up out of the water as your arms and legs move to the center.


    Start with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Lift one foot and pull it across the front of your body to touch it with the opposite hand. As you step that foot back out to the side, move the other foot across your body. Follow this by alternately pulling one foot behind your body to the opposite hand, then the other. You can hopscotch while standing upright or floating.

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