Summer means more time in the pool and that is great news since swimming is a great workout for the whole body, benefiting the heart, the lungs and muscles. Even if you don’t know how to swim, you can still get a great workout with aquatic fitness which is working out in the water.
Benefits of Water
Water provides adequate resistance for resistance training and enough stimulation to improve cardiovascular function while burning as many as 500 calories in an hour. Whether swimming or exercising in the water, the results are increased flexibility, increased muscular strength and endurance and, since water supports the body, reduced risk of injury.
According to Chris Freytag, fitness expert, “the physical properties of water are very
different from the gravity experienced during land-based training, which makes many water workouts feel deceptively easier than they actually are. In fact, it is those exact properties, specifically buoyancy and resistance, which can turn a water workout into an intense fitness experience.”
Buoyancy is the ability of an object to float in a liquid such as water, helping reduce the stress that exercise can place on joints, knees and hips, reducing chronic pain and increasing range of motion. Because of all these benefits, including the opportunity to work on balance in a safe environment, swimming and aquatic fitness can aid individuals of varying fitness levels from pregnant women to runners since research supports running in deep water (aqua jogging) as an excellent way to improve running time.
Aquatic exercises can be held in water level that is shallow (navel to nipple), transitional (nipple to neck) or deep (feet don’t touch the pool bottom) depending on the user comfort level and desired intensity. Moreover, for both swimming and aquatic fitness, there are a variety of water equipment to increase the intensity, improve technique, provide resistance and help with stability.
Aqua Jogger Belts fit around the waist to keep the user suspended in water while exercising, which allows those with leg injuries to still workout the lower body. Moreover, these belts strengthen the abdominal and low back muscles. Aquatic Elliptical, Treadmill or Bicycle are exactly what they sound like, but they are used inside a pool, utilizing water’s resistance to build muscle.
The treadmill speed can be varied from a walk to a jog, and both elliptical and treadmill are equipped with handrails while the bicycle has adjustable seat and handlebars. All offer the benefits of a traditional machine with the natural benefits of water: resistance, buoyancy, and cooling effect.
Pool Noodles are made of polyethylene foam and can be used to float and relax, or for aquatic exercises. They come in various sizes and colors and can be used for exercising the upper body, the lower body and the core. Pool dumbbells are made of styrofoam or other similar material that absorbs water. They can be used on top of the water for cardiovascular workouts or they can be used underwater for resistance training. Unlike traditional dumbbells they don’t vary in weight and weigh practically nothing when dry, but size makes a difference and a larger dumbbell will be harder to move trough water. Some equipment specific to swimmers:
Webbed gloves increase water resistance by creating more drag. The added resistance builds more strength by giving the shoulders, arms, chest and back a more intense workout than normal swimming. Fins allow the feet to stay higher in the water improving a swimmers body position and thus helping move faster through water.
The legs are the largest muscle in the legs but many swimmers drag them behind, however fins force the use of legs increasing ankle flexibility, providing greater cardiovascular benefit and burning more calories. Kick-boards are a flotation aid made of foam with a front curved end and a flat back end. Holding onto a kick-board with the hands takes out the arms allowing concentrating on the legs and on kicking. It also allows someone with a shoulder injury to still swim.
Fun in the Pool
Whether swimming or doing aquatic fitness there are many benefits to exercising in the pool. Water’s natural buoyancy, resistance, cooling effect and decreased joint impact make it an ideal exercise medium for anyone, from pregnant women, to seniors, to those with existing injuries or cardiovascular problems, to the very obese. This summer let’s have fun exercising in the water.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aris Akavan, ACE certified Personal Trainer & Lifestyle and Weight Management Coach, is owner of Body Fitness by Aris. Her mission is to assist others in leading a healthier lifestyle by balancing exercise and proper eating habits to achieve the ultimate body & mind wellness. Aris leads by example as she practices what she preaches. She leads an alcohol free and smoke free lifestyle and has worked out while following proper nutrition practices for over 10 years. In the last few years she also started participating in 5k races, adventure runs and triathlons. You can visit Aris at any of her following: