Article by: Haley Williams | Published: 19-03-2019 Aqua cycling is gaining traction in Australia as an exercise routine that delivers maximum health benefits for minimum pain. As a country that swelters through summer, this cool fitness trend, already a hit in many European countries, is sure to take the heat out of exercise. This aquatic exercise is also growing in popularity as a rehabilitation tool that can be used to facilitate a range of health outcomes for patients who struggle with land-based exercises. What is aqua cycling? Aqua cycling (or water cycling) is an aerobic activity conducted in a pool of water on a purpose-built, hydro-spin bike. The aqua cycling routine facilitates an intense cycling workout which incorporates various arm, chest and core exercises. This aquatic exercise routine is fast becoming popular as a high calorie-burning, toxin-eliminating workout, but it also strikes the perfect balance between exercise, fun and relaxation, according to Anita Swan, aquatic fitness trainer and founder of Water Resist. “The low impact generated by water creates a resistance that is twelve times stronger than that of a regular spinning class, which activates blood flow and improves cardiovascular endurance. “On the other hand, water relaxes muscle tension, preventing injuries or possible muscle pain that would otherwise be generated by exercising on land. “Many of the movements involve splashing water, making it a fun and a refreshing way to exercise in the Australian heat,” said Ms Swan. Aqua cycling in rehabilitation Aqua cycling is also a useful rehabilitative exercise as it reduces the strain on bones, joints and muscles compared to the load demanded on the body during land-based exercise, said physiotherapist Adam Monteith. “This reduction in load and strain on the body allows individuals who may not be able to complete a land-based exercise, an alternative pathway to complete exercise in a safer, less demanding environment. “In rehabilitation, repetitive low impact leg movements are valuable for lower limb injuries, coupled with the buoyancy and warmth of the water, it increases joint mobility with ease. “Water cycling can be used to facilitate a range of health outcomes including weight management, cardiovascular fitness, strengthening, injury rehabilitation and cardiac rehabilitation and general fitness training,” said Mr Monteith. Who is most likely to benefit? Aqua cycling is an ideal exercise for people who are less able to tolerate land-based programs, due to injury, weight-gain or advancing age, explained Mr Monteith. “Individuals with injuries may be able to commence exercise earlier compared to land-based alternatives, speeding up recovery timeframes. “(Clients) who are overweight or obese may benefit from the reduced strain on their bodies, allowing for more frequent workouts and quicker recovery. “The elderly may find water cycling a less strenuous form of exercise. However, the reduced stress on bones does not improve bone mineral density. “Anyone can benefit from water cycling, with the intensity in the pool adjustable to meet individual requirements depending on their level of fitness,” said Mr Monteith. Aqua cycling rehabilitation and safety Aqua cycling does present some risk for a population in pain, including navigating slippery services, getting into a pool and in and out of swimwear, explained Mr Monteith. However, as is the case with any rehabilitative treatment programs, implementation and monitoring by a health professional is crucial to safety and success. The benefits of aqua cycling for fitness According to Ms Swan, aqua cycling is a low-impact, high-calorie burning (up to 800 calories an hour), inclusive exercise that can be enjoyed by a diverse range of clients. “The support and pressure of the water increases blood circulation and facilitates fat elimination. “Whether you’re an athlete in recovery, an active pregnant woman, a growing child or you want to preserve the most precious thing you own - your body - water cycling is kind on the body. “Water's zero-gravity-feeling is perfect for people with muscular, joint or weight problems. The water supports your body weight.” “When you feel sore after a land-based workout, you created micro damages in the muscle fibres and connective tissue. In the water, there is no impact on your joints, muscles or bones and you are much less likely to cause micro-trauma to your body. “The buoyancy of water allows you to move your joints in a wider range of motion than you could on land. “Water cycling is also a good recovery workout after a big game, marathon or any race, or intense land-based routine. It allows you to recover better and faster,” said Ms Swan. The focus of water cycling is on preventative health management, according to Ms Swan, who encourages clients to swap one land-based training session a week for an aquatic exercise class. “You will feel the difference - less sore, quicker recovery. “We only have one body, and we need to take care of it which means regular exercise without the damage.”
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