For most people, staying fit is a challenge. Many common workouts, like jogging or weight lifting, place strain on muscles and joints that could result in injury or aggravate pre-existing conditions. Plus, exercising on land is often a sweaty, sticky, unpleasant affair.
But working out doesn’t have to be a chore. Water aerobics offers a cool, refreshing alternative to land-based workouts that tones muscles and blasts fat. If you’re elderly, pregnant, recovering from an injury, or looking to lose weight, water aerobics could be your new favorite workout.
Water Aerobics Has Numerous Benefits
Whether you’re bored with your land-based workout routines, or looking for a low-impact workout that will go easy on your body, water aerobics is for you. The benefits of working out in the water cannot be understated. Water’s buoyancy reduces the impact of exercise on your muscles and joints. That makes water workouts a great option for people who want to exercise while minimizing stress on their joints. If you have arthritis, back problems, or joint injuries, water aerobics allows you to tone muscles and burn fat without further damaging your joints.
Water also massages your muscles with a low level of resistance that can soothe your mind and body while exerting a force that can tone muscles from all directions. You’ll be able to work your muscles in ways that aren’t possible on land, including working opposing muscle groups from both directions at once. It’s like working out in a weighted body suit – but less tiring, because water’s buoyancy minimizes your fatigue while maximizing your fitness. In fact, treading water in a pool burns the same amount of calories per minute as jogging at six miles per hour, with a lot less sweat. A person who weighs 185 pounds can burn 178 calories in 30 minutes of a typical water aerobics session.
Some of the other benefits of water aerobics include:
- Improved circulation and lowered blood pressure
- Greater mobility and flexibility
- Posture correction and increased spine health
- Greater bone density
- Relief from chronic pain and stiffness due to hip or knee arthritis, and relief of back pain due to pregnancy
- Healthier bowel function
Water aerobics also helps promote stress relief and relaxation. For the injured and elderly, water aerobics promotes endurance and strength training at a reduced risk of falling.
Exercises to Try
One thing you’ll soon learn about water aerobics is that it’s fun! Doing these exercises feels a lot like how playing in the pool felt as a kid. If you’re just getting into fitness, you can start with walking laps in the pool. You’ll want to walk in waist-deep water, which may mean walking back and forth across the width of the pool instead of along its length – unless you have access to a lap pool that’s waist-deep all along its length. Start by walking laps slowly, with emphasis on good posture and correct form. Once you’re comfortable with that, you can start building back muscles as well as core muscles by walking one lap facing forward and the next facing backward. Time yourself, and try to shave a few seconds off your average speed for a lap, before returning to your normal pace.
Once you’re feeling warmed up, you can move on to some more playful exercises. Try these:
- Otter Roll – Floating on your back, clutch a beach ball to your chest with your legs straight and feet together. Use your shoulder, leg, and core muscles to roll your entire body to one side, making a full revolution in the water before coming back to your original position. Roll the other way. Keep going for 30 seconds.
- Ball Lift – Float facedown with the beach ball held in from of you, your legs straight, and your feet together. Hold your arms straight as you pull the ball under your torso and thrust it toward your thighs in an arc. Grab a breath as your head rises out of the water. Draw the ball back to the surface and return to the starting position. Keep going for 30 seconds.
- V Scull – In the shallow end of the pool, sit back in a V position with your legs straight and your head and toes above water. Tread water in this position by moving your cupped hands in circles near your hips. Use this motion to scull (propel) yourself along the length of the pool for 30 seconds.
- Leg lifts – Standing at the shallow end of the pool near the edge, lift your arms overhead and keep your shoulders over your hips as you lift one leg up and out to the side as far as you can. Then do the other leg, and repeat for 30 seconds. You can hold onto the side of the pool if you need to for balance.
Water aerobics is a great way to tone your body, burn calories, beat stress, and have a good time while enjoying a cool, refreshing workout. You never knew working out could be so much fun!