Pool Exercise vs. Land Exercise

Water aerobics keeps you cool when exercising in the summer.
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Water aerobics is one of many popular options at fitness centers and gyms. Your fitness center may allow you to choose between an aerobics class held in a pool and one held in a regular classroom. Before making your choice, consider the differences and benefits you could experience with each type of class.


Water is 800 times denser than air, according to a 1986 study in the “International Journal of Sports Medicine.” The cushioning effect of the water provides both resistance and cushioning not found when exercising on land. The resistance of the water strengthens and tones muscles and affects more of the body when exercising if the water is chest-deep or higher. Endurance increases more effectively in deep-water aerobics because of the full-body resistance factor.

Energy Spent and Weight Loss

Due to the resistance of the water, participants in water aerobics expend more energy than participants in a land-based class when the intensity levels are equivalent. Land-based aerobics participants had a higher heart rate than water aerobics participants, according to a November 2002 study published in the “Journal of Exercise Physiologyonline.” Even with a greater expense of energy, you may not see a significant difference in the amount of weight or fat you lose, according to a study published in the “Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness” in December 2006. Participants in both the land- and water-based groups lost weight and body fat, and both groups saw a decrease in body measurements and skinfold when the exercises were comparable for intensity, duration and frequency.

Joint Impact

Aerobics in a pool protects and cushions the joints during exercise because it is an extremely low-impact exercise. Aerobics in some land settings may provide low-impact exercise, such as dancing, rebounding and walking, but you do not have the cushioning protection that water provides. The buoyancy offered by the water reduces the effect of gravity and allows your joints more range of motion, according to the International Fitness Association. Pregnant water aerobics participants experienced less back pain and missed fewer days of work due to back pain when they participated in water aerobics classes, according to a study published in the July/August 2006 edition of the “Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing.” If you have joint damage, range of motion issues or are pregnant, water aerobics may offer the better alternative for your fitness goals.

Fitness Level

Students of various ages, abilities and physical conditions can benefit from water aerobics, according to the International Fitness Association. If you have severe low blood pressure, an infectious disease, open sores, allergies to chlorine or compromised breathing, water aerobics may not offer the best option. If water makes you anxious because you can’t swim or have a fear of drowning, choose a land-based aerobics class.

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