Water aerobics has many benefits, especially for cardio health and avoiding joint pain. However, weightlifting will help you meet strength training goals faster. Both workouts complement each other as part of an overall fitness and weight loss exercise program. If your body's fitness level is not yet ready for anaerobic exercise such as weightlifting -- which is high impact and oxygen depleting -- water aerobics is better for you. If you're looking for a workout that will build strong muscles more efficiently, aerobics won't be as effective as weightlifting.
When Water Aerobics is Better
Water aerobics is better than weightlifting for people whose bodies can't handle high-impact exercise, including seniors, some overweight people and those recovering from injuries. The water's buoyancy makes it a low-impact exercise, meaning it doesn't stress your joints. Water aerobics is better when your muscles are sore, since weightlifting contracts and tightens the muscles while water activities loosen and relax them. It's also better if you want to a cardio workout and want to burn more calories.
When Weightlifting is Better
Though aerobics burns more calories while you're working out, weightlifting burns more calories after your workout by building muscle mass. If your goal is weight loss, you need to burn more calories than you consume. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn daily, even when you're not working out. For athletes who want to gain strength, weightlifting is more effective than aerobics, since weights are more resistant than water.
Combining Aerobics with Weightlifting
You don't want to be a body builder who can lift 200 pounds but can't run up the stairs without gasping for air. You need both cardio and strength training for a healthy exercise program, so doing both water aerobics and weight lifting is more effective than choosing one over the other. You can get your strength training workout in, then jump in the pool for your cardio workout. This will also relax your muscles and promote recovery from weightlifting. Also, mixing up strength training with water aerobics gives your muscles different types of resistance, which better challenges them.
Tips & Safety Considerations
Warm up and stretch your muscles before working out, especially before aquatic aerobics. Unless the pool's water temperature is high enough to heat up your muscles, you'll want to warm up before getting in the water. Jog around the pool and do dynamic stretches. It's also important to cool down for five to 10 minutes at the end of your workout, and then stretch. This will loosen your muscles to prevent them from tightening up after your workout. Rest at least 48 hours between weightlifting workouts to let your muscles rebuild. Consult with your doctor before you start a new workout program.
- AceFitness.org: Make a Splash With Water Fitness
- FitnessForWeightLoss.com: How many calories do I burn water jogging?
- FitnessForWeightLoss.com: How many calories do I burn lifting weights/strength training?
- FitnessForWeightLoss.com: Top 5 reasons water aerobics is good for weight loss
- Aquatic Exercise Association: Fitness
- BodyBuilding.com: The Cool Down - Recover Faster & Avoid Injury!
- Brian Mac Sports Coach: Heart Rate Training Zones
- FitDay.com: 5 Low Impact Fitness Exercises
- BodyBuilding.com: 9 Ways To Burn Fat Fast
Lindsay Haskell enjoys writing about fitness, health, culture and fashion. She is a contributor for "Let's Talk Magazine" and "The Wellesley News." Haskell is completing her B.A. in philosophy at Wellesley College. She's also a fiction writer whose work can be read online.