Water aerobics is often considered a low-intensity workout program appropriate only for pregnant women or the elderly. However, water aerobics actually offers multiple benefits for any fitness level. Water aerobics classes come in a variety of formats, including step, zumba, kickboxing, tai chi and yoga.
Exercising in water makes you feel about 90 percent lighter, reports the American Council on Exercise. When you jump or run in the water, your body does not experience the same impact that these moves cause on land. This makes water aerobics an ideal activity for those with arthritis, back problems, foot or leg injuries, and knee conditions. Pregnant women and the obese also benefit from the reduced impact.
If you find other group exercise classes intimidating because of complex choreography or windowed studios, the pool offers some discretion. Most moves are performed underwater so only you know if you missed a step.
Expect to burn between 400 and 500 calories per hour in a water aerobics class, according to the Aquatic Exercise Association. The actual amount you burn will depend on your size, the intensity of your movements, as well as water temperature and depth. In general, faster movements incorporating the upper and lower body in deep water elicit the greatest calorie burn.
When exercising in water, you work against 12 times the resistance of air, according to an article published in “American Fitness” in 1996. Simply kicking and cupping the water helps contribute to muscle development, which translates into a higher metabolism and healthier body. Many water aerobics classes incorporate equipment like water paddles, noodles, single or double buoys, and kickboards to further induce strength gains. Push-ups or triceps dips performed on the pool deck also help build strength.