The Benefits of a Water Workout
My zodiac sign is Cancer, so I’m drawn to water and love any opportunity to get in the water. But taking hours out of my day to go swimming in a pool always felt like a luxury of time that I couldn’t afford with so many other work and life responsibilities breathing down my neck. But all of that changed after I tried water aerobics for the first time.
To me, swimming has always felt luxurious and kind of like cheating and not really working out because it’s fun. After all, kids of all ages love to get in the water and splash around, and they certainly don’t consider it exercise. With all that potential fun, could I really get a workout while playing in the water? Wouldn’t my time be better spent in the gym, climbing imaginary hills on the stairmaster, sweating it out and probably hating life?
First, I discovered, yes, I could get a workout while in the water. After just one class of gently lifting and kicking and pushing against the water’s resistance, I felt soreness in muscles I had forgotten I had! Plus, exercising in the water was gentler on my joints. Like a lot of us, I’m carrying a few extra pounds, adding stress on my knees and ankles. On top of that, I have chronic back and neck problems from lifting a heavy rack of dishes when I was in my 20s, so lifting weights always makes me nervous.
But in the water, I’m not worried about injuring myself as I push my body through the vast blue swimming pool just below the glimmering surface, watching as I make ripples around me. My knees bend effortlessly, and I’m not worried about losing my balance and falling as I lift them up high, doing knee kicks against the water’s resistance. After an hour of splashing around, I was surprised to feel like I was almost working up a sweat. This was hard work — who knew?
Curious about whether working out in the water could be good for you? It’s summer, so having fun in the swimming pool is on our minds here in balmy Georgia, and, take it from me, you won’t regret trying a water workout this year. Here are a few of my favorite reasons to hop in the water and see how you like it.
It’s lower risk.
Water aerobics gave me all the benefits of a great workout with a lower risk of injury. Being in the water reduces a person’s weight by as much as 90%, so there is less stress on joints, making it the perfect way to exercise for those with arthritis or injuries.
It actually burns calories.
While I didn’t feel like I was getting a workout at first, I learned that I really was. An hour of water aerobics can burn as many as 300 to 400 calories, plus it improves your cardiovascular health and increases your lung capacity, meaning you can breathe more easily. I definitely noticed a difference in myself after just one session, and an even bigger difference after several weeks of classes. I could breathe in more deeply; I felt less achy overall; and my joints were less stiff and creaky. I even felt stronger and more flexible on dry land after my water workouts.
No equipment is needed.
While kick boards, ankle and wrist weights, aqua jogger belts and pool noodles can certainly help enhance your water workout, none are actually needed. You can simply do arm lifts, leg lifts, knee kicks, back kicks, jumping jacks or take a walk or run in the water, and you’ll get an all-around good workout with no equipment at all. In fact, all that’s needed is a towel, bathing suit, swimming pool, and you.
It relieves stress.
Another benefit to a water workout is that it does feel luxurious. A little bit indulgent, perhaps, and a little bit like spoiling yourself. But you can let your guilt float away as you soak in the knowledge that not only is an escape to the swimming pool good for your physical health, it’s also good for your mental wellbeing. For me, the definition of pure bliss is leaning my head back and closing my eyes and letting the water support me as my worries float away. So spoil yourself, and take yourself to the pool for a water workout that will help strengthen your body and soothe your mind.
No swimming pool at home? Get a water workout at these area locations:
Valdosta State University Aquatics
Tifton Area YMCA
City of Douglas Water Aerobics
South Georgia State College pool
Written by: Christine Steele