A water aerobics workout can be a delightful way to get a productive strength and cardio conditioning workout. Water aerobics is a low-impact form of exercise that gives tired joints a needed break from conventional cardio training.
Water aerobics doesn’t require participants to know how to swim and are typically done in water no more than waist deep. An added benefit is that even when temperatures are high, there is little risk of overheating since the pool water should keep the body cooled. According to a study published in the August 2013 Journal of Physical Therapy Science, water aerobics can improve muscle strength, agility and balance, as well as cardiovascular health.
Although it may be more fun to enjoy water aerobics in a class setting, if you don't have a facility conveniently available or want to exercise in greater privacy, a home pool is a fantastic alternative.
Keep reading to learn a selection of water exercise options that will burn calories, strengthen muscles and give the joints a break from the stress of dry land cardio.
Lower Body Water Aerobics Exercises
It’s easy for anyone to create a lower body water aerobics workout. Include these useful, low-impact moves to spare the knees and strengthen legs and hips.
The flutter kick is a conventional swimming kick adapted for water aerobic exercise.
HOW TO DO IT: Begin by holding on to the edge of the pool, and then lift your body, so your chest and legs are in parallel to the pool floor. Keeping both legs straight, use a scissoring motion to kick each leg alternately.
Flutter kicking can be done at a comfortable speed or as fast as possible for one to five minutes at a time for cardio and to develop the leg and hip muscles
Running in Place
This simple movement provides a joint-sparing way to enjoy the cardio benefit of running without wear and tear on the hips, ankles and knees.
HOW TO DO IT: Start by standing waist deep in water, and start jogging in place. Like dry land running, it’s possible to do this exercise for over ten minutes at a time to burn calories and build greater stamina.
Try to do between one and three minutes of running in place as part of a water aerobics workout.
The pool version of this calisthenic move can be an intense workout. Choose waist-deep water — shallower water makes slipping a possibility, deeper makes it too hard.
HOW TO DO IT: Begin by standing in waist-deep water. Descend into a squat. Jump up as forcefully as possible while bringing the arms overhead. Three or four sets of about six reps are all it should take to get aerobic and leg conditioning benefits.
Upper Body Water Aerobics Exercises
Water resistance can make pool aerobics a highly-effective way to develop upper body stamina and improve cardiovascular conditioning.
Beach Ball Rolls
A beach ball will increase the body’s resistance to movement in the water, especially when rolling.
HOW TO DO IT: Float face-up in the water with the legs extended. Holding a beach ball to the chest, roll over the top of the ball in the water, first on one side then the other. Try repeating this movement for 15 to 20 seconds per set to start. With increasing fitness, try stretching the time closer to one-minute. Adjust the resistance level by choosing a larger or smaller beach ball.
Water Weight Flyes
Water weight flyes are great for working the chest.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand in the pool with water weights in each hand extended in front of the chest with palms facing each other. Pull the hands to the rear, moving the arms outward and keeping the elbows straight. Return the hands to the front for one rep.
Beach Ball Push Downs
Use a beach ball to develop better upper body stamina and get an aerobic workout.
HOW TO DO IT: Start by standing chest deep in water while holding a beach ball at arm’s length to the front. Push the beach ball under water to touch the thighs while keeping the arms as straight as possible. Bring the ball back up and repeat.
This movement will work the core, back, shoulders and triceps while getting the heart rate up into the aerobic training range. Try five or six sets of 15 to 20 reps.
Turn Your Pool Into a Ski Ergometer
This is one exercise that can be done for time and works almost every muscle while improving aerobic fitness. Stand in water up to the shoulders, then extend the right arm and left leg to the front and the opposing limbs to the rear. The movement is the same used in cross country skiing. Alternate sides as if cross country skiing with poles in the water. 10 minutes or more will burn calories, improve cardiovascular fitness and exercise all major muscle groups.
Mix It Up for an Effective Routine
Combine these moves into a water aerobics routine that can improve cardiovascular fitness. Do a few minutes of running in place then move on to beach ball rolls, vertical jumps and water weight flies. Another option is to start with flutter kicks, running in place and vertical jumps for five minutes each and the work the upper body with five minutes each of beach ball rolls, beach ball push-downs and water weight flies.
- Effects of Aqua Aerobic Therapy Exercise for Older Adults on Muscular Strength, Agility and Balance to Prevent Falling during Gait;Suk Bum Kim, David Michael O’sullivan;Journal of Physical Therapy Science;(2013)
- The effects of aquatic exercise on body composition and nonspecific low back pain in elderly males;Khadijeh Irandoust, Morteza Taheri;Journal of Physical Therapy Science;(2015)
- Build Your Own Aqua Fitness Class;Stephanie Thielen;ACE Blog;(2013)