The benefits of exercising in the water are many. Running, jogging, and walking underwater in a pool not only strengthen the leg and hip muscles – the quadriceps, hamstrings,and gluteus – but help to develop cardiorespiratory fitness. Aquatic exercises improve your cardiovascular fitness and can improve your muscular endurance, overall strength, and flexibility. Water provides buoyancy and support for the body. The likelihood of muscle, bone, and joint injuries is almost completely eliminated when exercises are performed in water.
Because water aerobics are often done in chestdeep water, this type of exercise is ideal for swimmers and non-swimmers alike. If you think you are ready to take the plunge, read on to learn more about aquatic exercises and how you can use water as a wonderful fitness tool.
Water aerobic workouts incorporate a variety of dance-like steps performed in water. In beginning programs, the participants learn to combine arm and leg movements in varying combinations. As the programs become more advanced, they incorporate more intricate dance and calisthenics movements. Water aerobics are usually led by fitness instructors and may be performed with or without music.
The main purpose of water aerobics is to improve cardiovascular conditioning. Because of the water’s resistance, water exercise also can improve your strength and flexibility, leading to better muscular endurance and balance.
People of all ages and fitness levels can enjoy water workouts. In chest-deep water, about 85 percent to 90 percent of the body’s weight remains supported. As a result, much less stress is placed on the body’s joints. This makes water aerobics a good choice for healthy individuals as well as those with medical conditions such as arthritis, neck and back problems, strokes, and obesity. People who may be too embarrassed to exercise on land can be more comfortable working out in water.
In general, a water workout expends more energy than a similar land-based exercise because of the resistance of the water. The average person burns 450 to 700 calories during one hour of aerobic activity.
Lynn Pass is owner of The Gym in Oneonta. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Performance from Auburn University and personal training and aerobic certifications in ACE, AFFA, and ACSM.