While many women may not look forward to swimsuit shopping, the truth is the pool offers a workout unlike any other and is well worth an afternoon in the dressing room. The pool creates a marriage between aerobics and weight training, allowing you to perform cardio and strength training at the same time. The bonus is your body and the water create the resistance. According to Vennie Jones from the Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Center in Dallas, water provides as much as 12 times the resistance you receive from air. In addition to the added resistance, water is buoyant so your body weight is lifted from your joints. This reduces the risk of injury to your joints, such as your knees or ankles, when working on your legs and feet. Before beginning an exercise program, consult your physician.
For the Legs
Begin in the shallow end of the pool. Walk from one side to the other just as you would outside of the water. Vary your steps. Walk the first lap as you normally would. Walk the second lap by marching and raising your knees higher toward your chest. For the third lap, try side steps. For the fourth lap, walk backward. Varying the way you walk will target different muscles in your legs. For additional resistance, add ankle weights.
Go to the deep end of the pool. Use the flotation buoys to support your upper body and keep you afloat. Kick your legs as if you were treading water. Do this for three to five minutes.
Stay in the deep end with the buoys and perform leg lifts. Begin with your right leg and raise it out in front of you, keeping your knee straight. Lower the leg and lift it behind you. Return to the starting position. Next, lift your right leg out to the right side, bring it back to center and then cross over the left leg. Perform five to 10 repetitions. Repeat these steps with the left leg.
Swim laps with the focus on your kicks. Support your upper body with a kickboard. Keep your legs straight and kick from the hip so you get the full movement of your legs.
For the Feet
Begin with range-of-motion exercises. Place your arms on the side of the pool for balance. Extend your legs out in front of you. Rotate your right ankle to make a circular motion. Rotate clockwise for five to 10 repetitions and then reverse the direction. Repeat with the left foot.
Stand at the edge of the pool and hold onto the wall for support. Raise your left foot so you are on your toes. Roll your right foot backward so you are on the heel. Hold this position for a few seconds and then switch. Continue this movement for a few minutes.
Work those toes. Check with your pool staff to see if small rocks, coins or marbles are acceptable in the water. If not, substitute with thin dive rings. Place your items at the bottom of the pool in waist-deep water. Curl your toes to try to pick up the items. This focuses on the small muscles in your feet.
Items you will need
- Ankle weights
- Flotation buoys
- Rocks, coins, marbles or dive rings
- Stop all exercises if you experience pain and consult a physician.
- Don't perform water exercises alone. Make sure there is a lifeguard on duty or another adult in case of injury.
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images