For a long time, exercising in water was perceived as something for seniors, pregnant women, or people with injuries. But times are changing, and ever more intense and varied aquatic workouts are developed. You may be reluctant to pay extra to join such a class: indeed, does water aerobic have advantages over working out on land?
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Not just for seniors
The benefits of exercising in water have been used in medicine for decades. Reduced weight makes it ideal for people who suffer from arthritis, soothing the pain and improving the use of the joints. Studies show that swimming and other water exercise help treat mental health issues, such a s depression, fibromyalgia, and developmental problems.
The last decade, however, has seen a real explosion of aquatic classes for healthy people of all fitness levels, from aquatic yoga to deep-water running. Some may think that it is just a way to make money: indeed, if you feel so light in water, doesn’t it mean that you burn less calories? Isn’t it more efficient to exercise on land?
The power of water
Exercising in water can be just as hard as on land; plus, water is a unique environment, sparing and challenging at the same time (you can find more details here).
- Less impact – Aquatic exercise can be very intense, but it is easy on your joints and back; the risk of injuries is much lower.
- High resistance. Being in the water is like putting on a heavy suit: the resistance is 10-15% higher than in the air, and each movement takes more effort. Some 30-minute aquatic workouts burn 300 calories!
- Balanced muscular effort. While on land bending an arm with a weight or kicking a leg is harder than straightening it, in the water the effort is more balanced due to higher resistance; thus, muscles around the joints develop more uniformly. It is great for balance, too!
- Better venous return. Water helps blood flow back to your head through the veins, increasing your cardiac output: the heart needs to do less pumps. In the water, your heart rate is 15-20% slower than on land at the same level of effort.
- Increased range of movement. You feel 90% lighter in water, so you can do moves that are too dificult on land, stretching the tendons and exercising the joints.
- No body image issues. While on land you may feel like everyone is watching you, in a pool you move under water, and nobody notices your flaws or missed steps. And even if you are afraid of water, you can enjoy it with a flotation belt!
Things to remember
While everyone can benefit from aquatic exercise, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Chlorine is not good for you: try not to let water to enter your nose and mouth
- Aquatic exercise does not increase bone density, since they don’t bear weight: you will still need to do strength training, running, dancing, etc.
- Keep your abdominals tight at all times to protect your back
- Drink water – you sweat even when you’re wet!
Workouts for everyone
Start with water Tai Chi if you want something gentle yet efficient (more on its benefits here), or try aquatic zumba, jogging, even riding a stationary bike! For those who want a hardcore workout, there is deep-water running: you actually run in water, wearing a flotation belt, without touching the bottom.
Regardless of what you choose, you will enjoy the full benefits of aquatic exercise as long as you commit to it. As with any kind of workout, regularity and patience is the key: invest two hours a week for six months and see your body transform.