Water babies, that’s us. We’re at home in liquid from pre-birth and we seem to naturally gravitate to it. We love the ocean, the lake the pool, the hot tub, and the bathtub.
What is it about water that means so much to us? It surrounds us, it cradles us, and it supports us. We’re nearly weightless in water. The largest of us can glide with ease and grace, feeling minimal resistance. And, I think it’s those endearing properties of water that make aqua exercise pleasant and effective.
Swimming is the most common form of Aqua Exercise. It’s good for all ages. It uses all your major muscle groups, strengthens, tones, and helps build aerobic capacity. There’s almost no impact, so it’s kind to your joints while it gets you in shape.
I swim laps for 30 to 40 minutes four or five times per week. I find it relaxing and stimulating at the same time. Some days it melts my stress and puts me in a meditative state. Other days I do some of my best thinking during my swim workout. In any case, I always get out of the water with that energized good-tired feeling. Mornings are my favorite time to swim. But I’ll take a swim any time I can fit it in. I mostly swim outside so, as pretty as dusk is; I’m usually done before that, because mosquitoes love me.
If you’re a beginner, start slowly with a few minutes a day. Stay in your comfort zone and build up. I can swim for an hour or so now, when my body’s in the mood. But it took me over a year to get that conditioned, and I had a head start as a fitness professional. Take your time and keep it fun.
Can’t swim? No worries. There are classes at the local rec. centers everywhere. There’s aqua cardio, aqua strength, aqua stretch, just about aqua everything. It’s done in about four feet of water so there’s no need to swim. You can get a great workout. It’s no-to-low impact, so it’s easy on your joints. And, if you have access to a pool or calm water, now you can stream a workout on to your tablet, prop it on a chair and exercise your brains out.
There’s some cool equipment to use in the water, too; aqua dumbbells, paddle gloves, jogging vests. Obviously if you’re going deep water running you’ll need one of those deep water jogging vests. But otherwise, you don’t need that stuff to get started. Many aqua cardio classes don’t use any equipment.
Here is an Aqua exercise you might try for cardio:
And, you can do Aqua Strength exercises using aqua dumbbells or a couple of empty plastic water bottles filled with air for resistance. Here’s a video with a few Aqua Strength exercises:
PT and Rehab
Immersion in water was used for healing by ancient civilizations more than 3,000 years ago.
They were on to something, though they probably didn’t know quite what. Immersion in water provides a supportive, low impact, low resistance environment for modern, medically based, physical therapy and injury rehab. A doctor usually prescribes this type of exercise.
Someone really smart, and probably pretty old, once said: “Aging is not for the faint of heart.” Can I say I can relate to that without giving away my age? Guess not.
Luckily water is also a great medium for vintage bodies that simply can’t take the impact of other types of exercise, at least not every day.
Even if you’re pretty active getting older can make it hard to do land-based exercise on a regular basis. And water is fun. You don’t know you’re exercising until you get out and your body tells you “Oh, that was a workout.”
As our health-conscious population lives longer and longer, I think aqua, with it’s ability to surround and support our aging bodies while we keep them operational, is the wave of the future. Get those creaky bodies in the water. Try it, you’ll like it.