Water exercise builds cardio, strength, and resistance all while being easy on the joints. While we have a tendency to think that water classes are only for seniors, it’s important to recognize this type of exercise benefits people of all ages looking for a challenging workout!
Since water flows in multiple directions, the resistance in the pool can range from 4 to 42 times greater than air, ensuring the body’s muscles get a challenging workout. In fact, a study conducted in 2007 found that after 12 weeks of regular aquatic aerobic exercise, participants had made significant gains in strength, flexibility, and agility.
The body is subject to water resistance during water aerobic exercise – which requires movement in various directions while adjusting to the push and pull of water – the joints naturally increase their range of motion. A study conducted in 2013 found a significant increase in flexibility after subjecting a group of older adults to aerobic therapy exercise.
Water supports 90 percent of the body’s weight for reduced impact and greater flexibility. For example, a 140 lbs person weighs only 14 lbs in the water. Water acts as a cushion for the body’s weight-bearing joints, reducing stress on muscles, tendons and ligaments. As a result, aquatic workouts are low impact and can greatly reduce the injury and strain common to most land-based exercises.
The combination of strength and cardio workouts mixed with water resistance in aquatic exercise ensures the body is getting a full workout. Depending on cardio activity, resistance equipment, weights, water temperature, volume, and buoyancy; the body can burn between 350 and 500 calories in an hour of exercise.
Reduce Blood Pressure
Water resistance is not just a buoyancy feature to help work the muscles. In fact, the water pressure actually works with your blood as well and enables one’s blood flow to circulate more effectively throughout the body, effectively decreasing blood pressure and, in the long run, decreasing resting heart rate. This benefit means your heart is maintaining its productivity while putting less stress on your heart!
Annie Farley, MS, CPT
Group Exercise Director