Water aerobics can be a fun way to get fit and stay cool in the summer. The buoyancy of the water eases stiff joints, allowing for movements that might not be possible for you on land. Water aerobics can also be used as therapy for numerous conditions, including multiple sclerosis and arthritis. Join a class or learn techniques on your own, but ask your doctor before attempting new exercises.
Before You Dive In
Stretching before your routine will loosen your muscles, preparing them for the workout. It's also important to stretch after working out to help you relax and reduce soreness. Stand facing the side of the pool, hold onto the edge and step one leg back, pressing both feet flat. With the front leg bent at the knee, lean forward, and you’ll feel a stretch in the calf. Stretch arm, back and abdominal muscles by raising your arms up over your head. Stretch triceps by reaching each arm sideways, across the front of your body. Whenever stretching, stretch only as far as is comfortable for you.
Encounter the Resistance
The natural resistance of the water will help you build strength in your muscles. Leg exercises include marching in place and walking back and forth, taking large strides. Stand away from the pool edge and kick forward with your right foot and back with your left. Alternate sides. Kick only as high as is comfortable for you. Side leg lifts can be done by with one side facing the edge of the pool and holding on while lifting the leg facing out, up and out to the side. Turn and face the edge of the pool and lift each leg backward. Be careful not to arch your back, as you may cause a lower back injury.
Simply treading water works out both the upper and lower parts of the body. You can vary the muscles you're working by changing how you’re moving your arms and legs while treading. For example, with legs apart, kick in a circular motion. Try kicking down with your legs closer together. Increase difficulty by keeping your arms still and letting your legs do the work. Work your arms by keeping your legs still or pointed forward, one at a time, while treading with your arms. If you’re able, you can make your routine more difficult by moving into the deep end; wear some float gear if you’re not comfortable in deep water.
Beach balls will add resistance to your workout, increasing the level of difficulty. Do the Otter Roll for your abs. Grasp the ball and float on your back. Roll to one side and over the ball, back to your starting position; beginners can roll side-to-side while floating.
Hold the beach ball in both hands for the Ball Lever. Float on your stomach -- novice swimmers can keep their face out of the water -- and stretch your arms in front of you. As quickly as you can, pull the ball underwater toward your thighs with straight arms. To return to the start, bend your elbows to bring the ball back up.
Other types of exercise equipment used for water aerobics include water weights, noodles, kickboards and water treadmills and steppers.