Make a Splash with a Water Workout

Use water as your medium for an effective workout and you'll be joining a diverse group of young and old, male and female, beginners and professional athletes alike who are all wet when exercising.

“Low-impact water workouts combine cardiovascular exercises with strength training with little risk for injury,” says Nancy Freid, water aerobics instructor at the Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas. “Because of water’s buoyancy and support, joints, muscles, and bones are well-protected.”

Range of goals

Pregnant women, teenagers, and baby boomers take classes to get in shape, cross-train, or train for a specific sporting event. In fact, people who are at many different levels of fitness can be in the same class; the advanced participants simply do more repetitions or use equipment that increases resistance.

Water exercises can use a range of equipment to increase the challenge and difficulty of a basic workout, including flotation belts, water weights, foam noodles, and webbed gloves.

“Even though you feel lighter in a pool, water provides 12 times the resistance of air because of its increased density, so any exercises you do are more difficult to perform,” says Freid. “Resistance equipment adds even more to that.”

Work it out

Although many people enjoy water aerobics classes, you don't have to be in a group to work out. You can go solo by walking forward and backward in the pool or doing jumping jacks and other aerobics moves.

When exercising in the water, follow these pool rules:

  • Exercise in navel- to chest-deep water.

  • Place your entire foot on the bottom of the pool.

  • Keep your abdominal and gluteal muscles tight and your spine neutral, with your hips slightly forward and your back straight, but not arched.

  • Wear water shoes for better traction and to protect your feet from rough pool surfaces.

  • Work at your own level.

  • Always warm up before and cool down after your workout.

  • Add equipment such as weights or water gloves, water paddles, or aquatic hand buoys if the exercise is too easy. Because of the water’s resistance, traditional weight-lifting exercises such as bicep curls, triceps extensions, and chest presses are more challenging in the pool.

“Water aerobics is a nice alternative for cross-training, and everyone—young or old, fit or not—can do it safely,” says Freid. “It’s fun, refreshing, and as challenging as you want it to be.”


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