What better way to exercise this summer than in a nice, cool pool! Water-based exercises are an excellent way to get aerobic physical activity (aka “cardio”) with little sweat. Also, completing two and a half hours of aerobic physical activity each week, such as swimming, can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses and improve your mood.
Since your body is buoyant (able to float) in water, you may have an easier time moving around and improving your flexibility during water-based exercises. The resistance you experience when moving in water can help strengthen your muscles. Water-based exercises may be ideal for people experiencing joint or muscle pain.
Try these aquatic exercises the next time you go to the pool:
In chest or waist high water, walk 10-20 steps forward, then walk 10-20 steps backward. Challenge yourself by increasing your speed. If you are looking for a higher-intensity workout, try jogging in place. Alternate jogging and walking for variety!
In waist high water, take an over-sized large step forward, bending the knees, without letting the forward knee get past your toes. Return to a standing position and repeat with the other leg. For more variation, try doing side lunges by taking a step to the side instead of forward, making sure you are keeping your toes pointing forward. Try 3 sets of 10 lunges.
In chest or waist high water, take sideways steps with your toes and body facing forward. Take 10-20 steps in one direction and then do the same in the opposite direction. Try repeating each direction twice.
- Hip Kicks
Standing straight and holding onto the pool wall to one side of your body for support, kick 1 leg forward with your knee straight and return to the starting position. Next, do the same kicking movement, but instead of kicking forward, kick to the side. Last, kick behind you, maintaining the straight knee, then return to the starting position. Try doing 3 sets of 10 for each leg.
- Standing knee lift
Standing with the pool wall behind you, and both feet on the floor, lift 1 knee up to the same level as your hip, and then straighten your knee. Bend and straighten your knee 10 times, then repeat on the other leg. For increased difficulty, try doing this exercise without standing against the wall. Try doing 3 sets of 10 for each leg.
There are plenty other water based exercises to try. You can even invest in a few pool tools, such as styrofoam noodles and kick boards to add more variety to your exercise routine. And if the gym you attend has a pool, inquire about pool based fitness classes. Have a splash!
*Always talk with your doctor before beginning any new fitness routine.