Engaging in aqua exercise pays off in many ways. With water having 10 times more resistance than air, you burn more calories dragging your body through the pool. Although joint-friendly water exercises give you a buoyant, strength-like workout without hefty weights, you still get a cardiovascular workout and burn calories. Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you have a chronic condition or illness.
If you can benefit from cardio and strength exercise, chances are you will benefit from water resistance exercise, too. Add pool time to your 2 1/2 hours of moderate exercise a week -- or one hour and 15 minutes a week, if you prefer your routines high-paced. Doing so takes the pressure off your joints and increases flexibility without the impact of weights or repeatedly slamming onto a hard gym floor. Whether you join a fast-paced water aerobics class or swim a few laps, hitting the pool waters can help lighten your mood, as well.
Do not assume you'll be stuck taking a group water aerobics class in order to reap the benefits of water-resistance exercise. If hanging solo is your style, consider investing in water chutes and handheld paddles for added resistance. Gym pools may already have these and other devices -- such as webbed gloves -- to borrow. Or go ahead and join a class. Classes are taught based on level and type -- just like a regular aerobics class, and you can challenge yourself by doing the exercises -- such as water jogging, jumping jacks and knee kicks -- in deeper water.
Exercises For All Needs
Because of the water's buoyancy, you can adjust water exercises to fit your resistance needs. Whether you are fit-as-a-fiddle, unconditioned, pregnant or suffer with a chronic health condition, chances are water exercises offer a safe, non-impact aerobic workout that is just right for you. When you are expecting, water exercises provide gentle and safe resistance. Or if you have arthritis, the warm pool water may help with your stiff and painful joints. People with disabilities and mobility issues also benefit from having fewer restrictions in the water.
Always be safe when swimming and make sure there is a lifeguard on duty. Home pool swimmers should never work out alone. Have a friend in the water, or hanging out poolside, in the event something goes wrong. Remember that water exercise is still exercise, so stay hydrated and eat a well-balanced diet. Dress for safety. Nonslip pool shoes can reduce slips and falls, and goggles and swim caps protect your eyes and hair from the harsh effects of chlorine. Ask if you can try a class before signing on the dotted line. If you decide to commit, check the instructor's teaching credentials, and ask to see her basic life support and first aid certification cards.
Having studied at two top Midwestern universities, Catherine Field holds degrees in professional writing and patient safety. Writing since 2000, Field has worked with regional newspapers while publishing fiction online. She conducts medical communication research at a Midwestern medical institution and is slated to write a book based on her research findings.