Aquatic workouts build aerobic fitness, muscle strength and flexibility, allowing you to perform exercises that, if done on dry land, would increase your risk of injury. If you have a chronic disease, medical condition or an injury that restricts your ability to perform certain workouts, aquatic exercise may provide significant health benefits. By doing a range of stretching, aerobic and strength-training exercises in a pool, you can burn more calories in less time than on land and improve your mobility and flexibility.
Exercising in the water can reduce the gravitation pull on your skeletal, muscular and cardiovascular systems by up to 80 percent, according to author Debbie Lawrence in “Exercise in Water.” The reduced gravitation pull and buoyancy of the water provide support to your body, reducing the weight and stress on your joints, muscles, ligaments and bones. This allows people who find it difficult to exercise, such as the overweight, elderly or those with certain medical conditions, to work safely in the water and for a longer period of time.
In chest-deep water and with your spine in a neutral position, take a step forward with your left leg and extend your right arm. Then, take a step forward with your right leg and extend your left arm. Repeat the steps consecutively in a winding or curving pattern, challenging your body to move in various directions. The aerobic exercise will gradually raise your heart rate to prepare your body for exercise.
Face the pool wall and hold onto the edge with both hands. Raise your left foot and place your toes against the wall. Keeping your right foot on the floor, jump up and switch the position of your legs. Repeat the exercise 16 to 32 times for an efficient cardiovascular workout.
To stretch and strengthen your upper chest and back, stand in chest-deep water with your arms extended to your sides. With your elbows slightly bent, bring your arms in toward your chest as if you are going to clap your hands. Once your hands touch, slowly move your arms back to the starting position and repeat.
Face the wall of the pool with your hands shoulder-width apart, resting on the deck of the pool. Using only your arms, press down on the deck and gently lift yourself out of the water until your arms are fully extended. Slowly lower yourself and repeat.
Use the resistance of the water to build stronger abdominal muscles. With your back against the wall of the pool and arms resting on the pool deck, slowly raise your legs. Tighten your abdominal muscles and extend your legs to each side, so you are in a partially seated position. Lean back and slowly bring your legs together and then back to the starting position. Repeat the exercise eight to 16 times.
Improve your knee stability and target your hips, buttocks and thighs with this exercise. In waist-deep water, stand facing the wall of the pool, holding onto the deck with both hands. Place your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes pointing at the wall. Tighten your abdominal and buttocks muscles and slowly lower your body as if you are going to sit in a chair. Bend down one-third of the way toward the chair before returning to the start position.
- “Exercise in Water”; Debbie Lawrence; 2004
- “Fantastic Water Workouts”; MaryBeth Pappas Baun; 2008
- “Water Fun”; Terri Lees; 2007