Aquatic exercise is a low-impact activity that takes the pressure off the bones, joints and muscles. Water also offers natural resistance, which can help strengthen the muscles.
Aquatic exercise can have many health benefits, such as improved heart health, reduced stress, and improved muscular endurance and strength. Exercising in the water can be a great way to add physical activity into your life. It also may be a helpful way for older adults to stay active. You can even do aquatic exercise if you don't know how to swim. Aquatic exercise also can improve joint use and lessen pain if you have osteoarthritis.
You might start with water walking. In water that's about waist-high, walk across the pool swinging the arms as you do when walking on land. Avoid walking on tiptoes, and keep the back straight. Tighten the abdominal muscles to avoid leaning too far forward or to the side.
To increase resistance as the hands and arms move through the water, wear hand webs or other resistance devices. Water shoes can help you keep traction on the bottom of the pool.
Deep-water walking with hand webs
Once you're comfortable walking in waist-high water, try walking in deeper water. As you walk, swing the arms. Keep the back straight, and tighten the abdominal muscles to avoid leaning too far forward or to the side.
To help you stay above the water, try placing a water noodle between the legs. Make sure the noodle is higher in back than in front. If you don't know how to swim, wear a flotation vest or float belt in deep water. To increase resistance as the hands and arms move through the water, wear hand webs. Water shoes can help you keep traction on the bottom of the pool.
For a more intense workout, try jogging in deep water.
Arm exercise using hand webs
Hand webs can help you strengthen the biceps and triceps in the water. Wearing hand webs, stand in waist-high water with the arms down, the palms facing forward and the elbows close to the body.
Raise the forearms to the level of the water, keeping the elbows close to the body and the wrists straight. Then switch direction and push the hands down until the arms are straight again. Repeat 12 to 15 times or until you're tired.
Arm exercise using water weights
Water weights are foam barbells that create resistance under water. Start with the arms at the sides. Grip the bars of the water weights with the palms facing up. Raise the forearms to the level of the water, keeping the elbows close to the body and the wrists straight.
Then turn the barbells over so that the palms of the hands face the bottom of the pool. Push the hands down until the arms are straight again. Repeat 12 to 15 times or until you're tired.
Resistance exercise using a kickboard
Kickboards give another type of resistance. Stand up straight with the legs comfortably apart and tighten the abdominal muscles. Extend the right arm and hold the kickboard on each end.
Keeping the left elbow close to the body, move the kickboard toward the center of the body. Return to the starting position and repeat 12 to 15 times or until you're tired. Then extend the left arm and repeat the exercise on the other side.
Leg exercise using a noodle
To strengthen the leg muscles, tie a water noodle into a knot around the foot or water shoe. Stand with the back to the side of the pool in waist-high water, placing the arms on the edge of the pool for stability. Straighten the leg in front of you, and then flex the knee to about a 90-degree position.
Return to the starting position and repeat 12 to 15 times or until you're tired. Tie the water noodle into a knot around the other foot or water shoe and repeat with the other leg.
Aquatic exercise can be fun at any age, size or fitness level — whether you try it on your own or sign up for a class. Think about checking out aquatic exercise classes offered at a local fitness center or a local swimming pool.
June 29, 2023
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