Water Workouts to Improve Fitness & Flexibility and other Benefits

Water Workouts

Finding Variety in your Fitness Plan is Essential to Longevity

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You can do all your aerobics moves and even running in the water for extra muscle resistance without much stress on your joints. With a few training aids, you can target certain muscles and boost your intensity It might be a good change of pace while your ankle heals, along with helping you maintain overall flexibility Check with your doctor first, of course, before beginning any exercise program while recuperating.

You can do several types of water workouts. Swimming is obvious, hut you don't need to he able to swim to do aqua aerobics. You don't have to be good at aerobic dance, either, but you'll recognize some of the moves if you've done aerobics before.

Aqua Aerobics

As with any cardio program, aqua aerobics requires you to keep moving your large muscles to get your heart rate into your target zone for 20-30 minutes. Start with a warm-up, then proceed through various movements, usually 6-8 sets of eight reps.

Work out in water that's between waist and chest high. If it's more shallow, you won't get much resistance. If it's up to your neck, you won't be able to get the right footing and may tend to float away.

Keep moving at a moderate intensity, alternating movements listed in our box of sample moves. Watch the clock or set a timer so you know when you've done enough (don't trust your instinct or you'll probably do too little). Then cool down with slower movements, gentle stretches and some resistance work at the edge of the pool. You can do hip abductions by lifting your knee to the front, then moving it to the side. For adductions, lift your knee out to the side, then pull it in an arc so it's in front.

If you have foam dumbbells or other devices to hold you up, you can lie back on them and do some knee-ups with a twist for your abs.

Look for aqua fitness classes at health clubs, recreation centers and high schools and colleges in your area. Taking a class could help you maintain the right pace and give you a variety of movements. The instructor will make you work and the companionship will do you good. Aqua aerobics is great for anyone with minor mobility problems that interfere with running, fitness walking, stair-stepping or other city-land fitness activities.

Walking, Running & Treading

Water walking You might be able to run and walk in the pool even if you can't do it on land. Walk in water that's about waist-deep (deeper for more resistance), moving fast enough to get into your target heart-rate zone. Some pools set aside lanes for water walkers to go up and back in the pool, but they're still the exception. In a smaller pool, you can go in circles, or go forward one way and backward the other. Walking backward works different muscles, so you get a more balanced workout.

Move your arms and hands, too, using the water resistance to build those muscles as you boost your cardio workload.

Water running This is done in deep water. Wearing a flotation vest or belt, you run at your aerobic pace.

Treading water We seldom think of this as a cardio workout, but it can be, Try it: Keep your arms and legs moving constantly for 20 minutes or more, so that you feel winded but not exhausted.

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