Pool or Pond: Water Exercise for Everyone

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Hot summer months mean the pool is cool, but relaxing by the water may feel just a bit more deserved if you finish an awesome workout before lounging poolside. Exercising in water is a great way to stay in shape and boost self-confidence while being easy on the joints. Fitness experts recommend water exercise because it is safe and efficient.

Working out with water resistance increases strength and cardiovascular health, slows down age-related loss of muscle mass and offers great psychological benefits. You don’t have to be an experienced exerciser to see the paybacks of a great water workout. Start with something as simple as leg lifts and arm circles or dive right in with sprints against a waist-high current. Getting great body benefits is as easy as taking off your tennis shoes and putting on your one-piece!

You may have heard the buzz about stand-up paddle boarding, or SUP. Offering a vast variety of health benefits including core strengthening, better balance and stress relief, this water wonder is a full-body workout and super popular to boot. According to the Outdoor Foundation, stand up paddle boarding is not only the fastest-growing watersport, but fastest-growing sport in America.
Standing straight up on your paddle board, you can take in the view of the water while giving your body a big boost of vitamin D. Some paddleboards are hard material while others can be blown up to save time and space. Ride with the wind, or enjoy your favorite yoga poses as you view the horizon. If you’re new to paddle boarding, check out online help from sites such as rei.com and islesurfandsup.com.

And there’s no one way to exercise in the water. Participants can swim laps, perform weighted exercises on their own, exercise with a trainer or take group classes such as water aerobics. Even land lovers are trading gym shorts for swim caps to combine core strength and lengthening movements from techniques such as Pilates, yoga and tai chi, all done in the pool.

Class Workouts
For all the Sweaty Betties who enjoy their workouts in a class format, don’t discount the water for a great group session. Aqua-for-Arthritis isn’t the only water class to choose from anymore. Loyal land exercisers are getting winded in classes such as water boot camp and aqua cardio blast. These programs offer a high-intensity cardio and strengthening workout using weights, circuit and agility training against H2O resistance. Look for names like Aqua Piyo and Water Pi-Yo on your gym’s schedule. These classes generally offer a combination of exercises to tone muscles and improve posture, while aiding in flexibility and balance.

Looking for other water workouts? Make waves with some of these:

Basic Water Fitness classes are designed for those who want a great workout using water gloves, noodles, resistance bands and dumbbells.

Aqua Jog or Water Walk are unique classes that use flotation devices or water belts to allow “jogging” in deeper water.

Aqua Yoga uses basic yoga movements and adapts them to the water environment. Typically done in a warmer pool, aqua yoga strengthens and tones while easing stress and renewing energy.

For all of you step lovers, Aqua Step class takes a platform to the pool for cardio and resistance training.

Make the water your personal trainer with Deep H2O, a deep-water interval. These workouts usually include abs and lower back.

Various types of water exercise are incorporated into Aqua Mix, an all-over body workout.

While some exercisers feel that it might be easier to reach and maintain an appropriate training intensity in the gym rather than in the pool, the benefit of any workout depends on the motivation and energy applied to the exercise. Aquatics are among the few exercise classes in which people of all ages and fitness levels can benefit from the same workout. Participants tend to stay engaged in a class setting, while become more physically fit.

If swimming laps is your choice for aqua action, try adding a little zip to your routine. Some swimmers respond well to goal setting, so completing an extra lap or aiming to decrease your time may provide extra motivation. Doing intervals in the water is beneficial too. Alternating bursts of fast swimming with short periods of rest can increase overall speed and agility.

Is Water Exercise for You?
Aqua exercise might be an ideal fit for you if you want a workout that addresses your whole body or have any obstacles that might prohibit you from doing traditional or land exercise. Exercising in the water is safe, fun and can be intense enough to have you seeing heart-healthy results in no time. If another gym workout has you drowning in drudgery, add a little splash to your fitness routine. Go ahead. Jump in. The water’s fine! ■

Sources: rei.com, islesurfandsup.com and mayoclinic.org