Water aerobics routines provide a great, low-impact workout, especially for seniors and people with back or joint pain. The water buoyancy makes exercising easier on the joints, bones and muscles.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two and a half hours of aerobic activity per week can lower the risk of chronic illnesses, improve health for people with heart disease and diabetes, and cut the risk of death in half compared to those who do not exercise. Plus, water aerobics are just plain fun.
Does Water Aerobics Burn Calories?
Aqua aerobics is a good workout. Although the water makes exercising easier on joints and muscles, the resistance forces the body to work harder to move around. That makes aqua aerobics a good workout because it will burn more calories than land exercises of the same nature, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
For example, walking in water burns more calories than walking on land. A study published by PLOS One in May 2018 showed that practicing water aerobics for 12 weeks twice a week for 50 minutes each session improves explosive strength, especially in the arms, reduces systolic blood pressure, and reduces body fat mass. Water aerobics routines provide an excellent workout.
Read more: How to Do Water Aerobics at Home
Water Aerobics for Weight Loss
Water aerobics exercises are effective for weight loss. According to the Aquatic Exercise Association, expect to burn approximately 400 to 500 calories in a one-hour session. That number depends on where the water level is, the speed of movement in the water, the length of a person's limbs, and water and air temperature.
Some classes will have students stand in deep water (up to the shoulders or chest), while other classes focus on the lower body only (with water up to the waist). Deeper water exercises tend to be more intense, which means you almost always burn more calories. Water aerobics routines provide an excellent workout whether there's a need to lose weight or just to keep the body moving and healthy. It's a fun way to exercise and stay cool.
Read more: Water Workouts for the Butt
Water Aerobics Routines
There are a lot of water aerobics exercises out there, but this is a good place to start. Repeat these exercises for the suggested number of reps or until you're tired. If you need to do less than the suggested number of reps, that's fine too. Another great place to start is a water aerobics class so an instructor can guide you through several exercises and the number of reps.
A number of water aerobics exercises are perfect for beginners. Another option is to choose to do an arm and leg day, breaking it up during the week. For example, you can focus on arms on Mondays and Wednesdays and then legs on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
1. Water Exercises for Upper Body
These exercises will work your arms, shoulders and core. If you don't already have the equipment needed, you can do the exercises without it. You'll still get some good resistance from the water. Repeat 12 to 15 times or until you're tired.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding a kickboard sideways with your right arm holding the back (farthest from your body) and your left arm holding the front (closest to your body).
- Move the kickboard out to the right and then back to the middle, keeping your left arm close to your body.
- Switch arms to work the other side.
Move 2: Arm Exercises Using Hand Webs
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands by your sides with your palms facing forward.
- Spread your fingers to make use of the water-resistance in between your fingers.
- Keep your elbows close to your body.
- Pull your hands to the surface of the water, keeping your wrists straight.
- Turn your hands so they are facing down, and push them back down beside your body.
Read more: List of Water Aerobic Exercises
2. Water Exercises for Lower Body
These exercises will work your legs and core. If you're exercising without the equipment, you'll still get some good resistance from the water.
Water walking is exactly what it sounds like: walking in water. A flotation belt will keep you upright while you're exercising or you can use a pool noodle to help you remain upright. Place the noodle in between your legs with a shorter length in front and longer in back. This is necessary for deep water walking in water levels up to your shoulders.
- Avoid leaning forward too much.
- Keep your back straight and your core engaged.
- Use hand webs to add more resistance.
- Walk as you normally would on land (although this will be like walking in slow motion).
- Keep your hands out to your sides with your palms facing forward to use that water resistance.
- Start with three laps, and if you feel good, see how many laps you can do.
You can also try walking backward and walking sideways to work other muscles.
Pool shoes can help keep your feet from slipping on the pool floor.
Move 2: Noodle Leg Lifts
- Tie a pool noodle around your right foot.
- Stand with your back facing the side of the pool.
- You can hold on to the side of the pool with your arms to help keep your balance.
- Lift your right leg up and stop when your leg is at a 90-degree angle.
- Then return your leg to the starting position.
- Repeat 12 to 15 times.
- Switch the pool noodle to your left foot and repeat.
- National Institutes of Health: PLOS One: "The Effect of 12 Weeks of Water-Aerobics on Health Status and Physical Fitness: An Ecological Approach"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Health Benefits of Water-Based Exercise"
- Aquatic Exercise Association: "Benefits of Aquatic Fitness"
- Arthritis Foundation: "Water Walking 101"
- Mayo Clinic: Aquatic Exercises