Water walking offers several benefits over taking your typical stroll on land. The water provides resistance, making your muscles work harder to move forward. At the same time, it provides buoyancy, helping reduce strain to your joints. Changing your water walking routine keeps it interesting while allowing you to work different muscles as part of the exercise.
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Form is Key
The proper form helps you get the most out of your water walking workout, regardless of which exercise suits you best. Just like on land, keep your back straight and your shoulders lifted. Leaning forward cheats the resistance a bit, but maintaining a straight back requires your abdominal muscles to work a little harder against the pressure of the water. Step like you would on land, too -- your heel goes down first, then roll it forward toward your toe. The buoyancy of the water can make this a challenge, which is what you want out of your exercise time. Swinging your arms in shallow or deep water helps raise the cardiovascular component of the workout.
Sticking to Basics
Basic water walking is much like walking on land, but you must decide how deep you feel comfortable exercising in. The water should be at least waist deep so your entire leg movements push against the water's resistance. The deeper you go, the more resistance you encounter, including swinging your arms underwater. Take long, purposeful steps as fast as you are comfortable with. Shoot for about half your normal land-walking time to begin with, such as 15 minutes if you typically walk 30 minutes on land. Build up your water walking time gradually.
Shaking Up the Routine
Basic walking isn't the only way to move across the pool. Try walking backward and side-stepping, which works the inside and outside of your thighs more than when you move forward or backward. Lift your knees high to engage your abdominals more. In water that's about waist high, do walking lunges where you lower your body with your front knee bent at 90 degrees and your back leg straight.
Making It Harder
Although deeper water automatically increases resistance, adding water gloves also helps. These gloves are typically webbed between the fingers to make it harder to push your hands through the water. Swing your arms with your palms up to add more of an upper-body workout to your water walk, or hold them out to the sides without swinging them to create drag. This makes walking forward through the water more of a challenge.