Now that many people have access to indoor swimming pools through the YMCA and fitness clubs, water aerobic exercises have become a favorite year-round workout. These classes are popular with most age groups, ranging from teenagers to busy parents with young children, and senior citizens interested in staying strong and fit in order to maintain mobility.
Water aerobic exercises combine aerobics, strengthening, and stretching. These refreshing forms of exercise should be considered as an alternative to traditional aerobic exercises done on land for individuals with orthopedic disorders or excessive body weight. They're great as temporary exercises for individuals who are fit, but can't participate in preferred exercise because of illness or injury.
When performed with sufficient intensity, frequency and duration, water aerobic exercises may maintain or improve cardiovascular fitness. The exercises can also tone your body by using water as resistance. Many water aerobics instructors incorporate water weights, paddle boards, and other fun equipment into their workouts.
Due to the meditative quality that requires you to focus on movement and breathing, swimming laps is a great way to reduce stress.
Not having access to an official aerobics class isn't a showstopper. These exercises are not difficult and you can easily do them by yourself, or invite a friend to come work out with you. Even a small backyard pool is great for water walking, which eases the stress on your joints and muscles.
If you like rhythmic movement, you might find a water Zumba class in your area.
Stand in water up to your shoulders or neck and move your arms from one side to the other quickly. You will feel the water resisting your arms as you move. The faster you move, the greater the resistance. As with similar forms of resistance training, it helps to strengthen and tone your muscles.
If you are having problems that don't allow for impact movements, water aerobics exercises are gentler on your body, and may provide protection for injured joints because the water absorbs the impact.
Some people simply don't tolerate extremes in temperature. This is where water exercise comes into play. When temperatures outdoors heat up, water aerobics can prevent overheating during exercise, as the water cools your body. You may consider using an indoor swimming pool to avoid extreme heat or winter cold entirely.
Although you are surrounded by water, don't forget to stay hydrated before and after exercising in water. Hydration is important for all athletic activities.
You don’t need special equipment to enjoy a great workout using water aerobic exercises. You may choose to invest in water weights, a kickboard, or pool noodles if you have your own pool; but, there are many exercises you can do without these devices. If you join a water aerobics class through your YMCA or fitness club, you can use their equipment free of charge.
Are you ready to give water aerobic exercises a try on your own? A swimming pool with water that comes up to your waist or a bit higher is all that you need for water walking. A couple of our favorites are exercises typically done on dry land -- jumping jacks, and jogging in place -- each with a bit of modification to perform best in water.
When doing jumping jacks, stand in water at about shoulder height. Rather than raise your arms over your head, stop the upward movement at shoulder level. Keep your hands flat to create resistance in both directions.
Jogging in place is best performed in water if you keep your foot in a flat position, rather than pointing your toes, when you raise your knees. This increases the resistance.
Remember that the point of aerobic exercise is to get your heart rate up. So use increased speed or a water exercise device to elevate the intensity, if needed.
With a bit of imagination you can come up with a variety of directional movements utilizing the water's resistance that will get your heart pumping, and firm your body at the same time.