Swimming is a great way to work out, but do you know that you can actually get some type of aerobic workout in the pool—even if you don’t know how to swim at all? It’s called water aerobics, and it is when you do your physical fitness exercises in waist- or neck-high water. The water itself acts as some form of resistance, which makes the workout feel more intense.
What Are the Benefits of Water Aerobics?
Perhaps the most obvious advantage of water aerobics is that you are much less likely to hurt yourself or to have sore muscles. The buoyancy of the water reduces your “effective” weight by as much as 90%, and that can be a welcome relief for your stress-bearing muscles and joints.
Other benefits include:
• You can burn as many as 11 calories a minute when you’re just treading water. That’s about the same calorie-burning rate of running at a speed of six miles per hour.
• The constant resistance of the water means you are engaging more muscle fibres. It increases muscle strength, with the water acting as the weights. Since the water is all around you, all the muscles in your body will become firm over time.
• You can boost your lung capacity. Your lungs are required to engage more because of the constant pressure from the water.
• Being in the water provides you with a wider range of motion. This enables you to do much more difficult stretches than you have done on land, and which means greater flexibility for you.
Who Benefits from Water Aerobics?
Technically, everyone can benefit from water aerobics. However, certain groups of people will find the benefits of water aerobics more to their liking. For example, if you love the water, then you may find yourself looking forward to your workout instead of dreading it. If you are in physical rehab or you have arthritis, the lower probability of injury is also appealing. This is also the reason why water aerobics is such a hit among pregnant women and the elderly. Water aerobics is also a great cross-training activity for cyclists and runners.
What Do You Need to Get Started?
Obviously, you’ll need a swimming pool. You’ll also need a swimsuit that’s comfortable and modest to avoid wardrobe malfunctions. You may even want to wear aqua shoes to protect your feet from abrasions.
Some exercises will also require additional equipment, such as a beach ball and other flotation devices for a more intense personal training. Vests may also be required for safety reasons, especially if you don’t know how to swim.
Finally, you’ll need someone like me who can guide you so that you can do your water aerobics properly. A personal trainer can remind you that you’re there to work out, and you’ll probably need that reminder every now and then when you’re enjoying the water a little bit too much. There’s always the temptation to goof off and just have fun, but a professional by your side can lead you away from that sort of temptation!
Coach Sharm, Personal Trainer, MSc