Water Exercise 101:Exercising Difficult? Just Add Water!

You know you should exercise, but there are so many things that can hamper your good efforts – not enough time, extreme weather and pain are the top three reasons not to exercise.

But what if you could discard two of those reasons?

Sticking to an exercise program takes motivation and dedication. Making time is essential to stay healthy. But extreme weather and pain no longer have to inhibit your endeavors! All you have to do is add water!

Blistering heat and blustering cold weather patterns can be regulated by performing exercises in a temperature-controlled pool! Working out in a water temperature of 83 – 86 degrees can reduce risks of hyper- or hypothermia – dangerously high or low body temperatures. And warm water also soothes the body allowing for increased range of motion, while helping to increase blood flow.

And though water is about 800 times as dense as air, which creates resistance, the buoyancy of the water causes a 90% decrease in body weight. In other words, water increases resistance around 12 -14% more than on land, but without the gravitational stress – and decreased stress equals decreased pain!

By counteracting gravity and adding support, water offers a great alternative to increase conditioning, flexibility and strength while decreasing stress, impact on joints and pain.

Water exercise can also enable your heart to work more efficiently. By creating an equal pressure on body surfaces, it assists in the circulation of blood to the heart, thus decreasing blood pressure and heart rate.

Exercising in water offers a high level of energy expenditure without all the stress to your body. Water allows support and resistance – it offers a supercharged workout without gravity – it offers muscle conditioning and massaging simultaneously.

Watch Points
As with any exercise routine, you should consult your primary physician before starting to ensure you are healthy enough for moderate physical activities.

Signs of stress or distress should never be ignored. Watch for signs of dizziness, lightheadedness and nausea – if these occur, stop activity immediately.

And even though you may be surrounded by water, keeping hydrated is as much of a necessity in the water as on land.

Though water routines offer less stress to the body, stiffness, swelling of the joints and increased pain can occur, especially with certain conditions. These symptoms should also never be ignored.

Optimal water level should be chest high. Any lower and you increase the impact on joints, thus increasing the risk of intensifying pain symptoms. Any higher and you risk quick fatigue, which can jeopardize your overall safety, and you also increase your chances of injury due to loss of balance.

Water Exercise Benefits
Water exercise is great for a change of pace from your normal routine. It is a recommended option when extreme weather inhibits a full land workout. And it is wonderful with people who suffer from such things as back and/or neck pain issues, arthritis and other joint problems, obesity and strokes to maximize overall fitness and recover from injury.

Water exercises are great for people of all ages and fitness levels. Since water expends more energy than land workouts – around twice as much – results are maximized.

Water exercises can decrease stress and tension while minimizing pain issues. It reduces the risk of injury by decreasing the impact on joints while boosting overall strength and muscle tone. It helps increase range of motion and flexibility, thus enhancing balance and coordination.

And since water routines are a great cardiovascular workout, not only does it aid in the reduction of blood pressure, it increases endurance and circulation, which in turn can maximize overall wellbeing and sleep patterns.

Getting Started
Once you are cleared by your physician, you are ready to begin.

If you are unsure how to build a good program enlist the help of a professional, especially if recovering from some type of injury, such as an exercise physiologist or physical therapist.

The wonderful thing about water exercise is that it only requires a pool to get started however other workout devices are available to enhance workout routines. It is recommended, however, that you purchase an inexpensive “noodle” to assist in balance to allow uninterrupted motion of the lower extremities.

Most land exercises, such as calisthenics, strengthening exercises, walking, jogging, Yoga and Pilates, etc. can be performed in water.

-A pool with regulated temperatures (83- 86 degrees) especially in colder
-A flotation device, such as a noodle to increase stability while increasing resistance
-Kickboards add support of body weight while adding resistance
-Floatation belts help keep the body in proper alignment, especially in deeper water to allow for the uninterrupted movement
of the lower body and is great for increasing range of motion and strength
-Gyrojoggers are foam circles that can be places on arms or ankles to add resistance
-Aquablocks are small water barbells to increase resistance, much like regular barbells.

The Basics
As with land exercises, starting out slow, especially if you are not used to regular exercise, is essential as muscle and joint soreness can still occur.

Start with basic exercises such as arm circles, bicep curls, leg kicks, knee-to-chest and squats. Increase level of difficulty by adding more resistance, such as Aquablocks, or try a different spatial plane – instead of performing side leg kicks in a vertical plane, try a diagonal plane.

To add an aerobic workout which will increase your heart rate, begin with walking or kicking routine on a kickboard. Adding your arms, such as paddling or marching with your arms swinging will quickly increase heart rate, so watching for signs of shortness of breath and dizziness is a must.

Lap swimming is also a great way to increase your cardiovascular workout while toning muscles. Don’t know the basic swim strokes, take a beginner lesson.

Pool Yoga is traditional Yoga poses that can help increase range of motion while strengthening muscles, supporting weak joints and increasing such things as balance, coordination, stamina, stability and body alignment, while enhancing body awareness and stress relief, especially when coupled with water. And since technique is essential, knowing the basics before attempting in water is the key, so rent a beginner tape or take a few classes first.

Pool Pilates is a new spin on core strengthening by mixing Yoga-like movements with strengthening techniques in an organized, practiced sequence with each exercise building on the previous one. Pilates focus on core postural muscles through controlled movements which engage not only the body, but the mind as well, so active breathing, especially with the deep abdominal muscles, is essential. Start by using the pool ledge for maximal support then advance to a noodle. For an advanced challenging routine take away all balance aids to fully engage core muscles. New to Pilates? Take a beginner class or purchase a tape and practice on land.

Water exercises can be performed alone or in addition to regular land routines. It is a great way to combat extreme weather and add a little spice to your workout while enjoying the soothing effects of water. Plus the added resistance can really make a difference in the results.

So go ahead, make a splash and see just how fun exercising can be!

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