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Aquatic Exercise: Getting Fit in the Pool

Aquatic Fitness Now that temperatures are soaring, exercise may be the last thing on your mind. That hot, sticky feeling is often a great workout de-motivator.

However, we have an opportunity to turn this de-motivator into a motivator: exercising in the pool. Using water as a way to get in shape is both effective and fun. No longer associated only with seniors, aquatic fitness allows us to work our bodies hard, yet stay cool and comfortable.

Athletes, housewives, rehabilitation patients and even children are catching this next wave in fitness, and a wide variety of workout options are now available. According to the Aquatic Exercise Association, a not-for-profit educational organization, popular exercise formats that have been developed and adapted for use in the pool include:

• Kickboxing
• Pilates and yoga
• Sports-specific training
• Plyometrics
• Deep water running
• Targeted core training
• Bootcamps

Benefits of Exercising in Water

1. Burns Calories
A properly structured water training session can burn up to 500 calories, which facilitates weight loss.

2. Provides Full Body Conditioning
When you move through water you are always encountering resistance, which challenges your muscles. Water provides a well-balanced workout that encompasses the major components of physical fitness: endurance, muscular strength and flexibility….all in one shot.

3. Saves Time
In the pool your exercise sessions involve working muscles in pairs, so you accomplish more in less time.

Aquatic Fitness - Woman in the Pool4. Easy on the Joints
Water makes your body buoyant and the impact to the joints during exercise is significantly less than on land. Not only is this good for seniors, but athletes needing cross-training, rehabilitation patients and pregnant women benefit from the lessened joint stress.

5.  Alleviates Back Pain and Strengthens Core
Water provides a low- to no-impact environment that reduces stress on the spine, which sometimes allows you to work harder than on land. Deep water exercise is also a very effective core strengthener, which is important for back health and good posture.

6.  Provides Cross-Training
Repetitive motion often leads to injuries, so moving your program into the pool or changing up your exercise completely gives your body a well-deserved break. Runners, for example, often find deep water jogging a welcome, yet challenging, alternative to the constant pounding on pavement.

7. Keeps You Cool
Though you do sweat during pool exercise sessions, the water helps wash the sweat away so you don’t feel uncomfortable. Overheating is a frequent danger with hot weather workouts and is much less likely in the pool.

8. Relaxes You
The fluid movement of water relaxes you and facilitates better sleep. New mind-body classes such as pool yoga and pilates also reinforce relaxation. Specialized treatments such as Watsu, a gentle form of body therapy performed in warm water combining elements of massage, stretching and shiatsu, offers a complete relaxation experience. And when in doubt – merely float. The gentle motion of the water will cradle you and let your muscles release. 

As with all exercise, consistency is key. Do your research and find a water-based program that appeals to your personality and needs. That way, come fall, you won’t be struggling to fit back into your jeans.

Stay cool.


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Written by Helen M. Ryan


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