Tired of the same old workout routine? Mix things up and jump into a pool. Working out in water requires little gear—swimsuit, maybe goggles—and has multiple benefits:
It’s low-impact. “A large percent of your body’s weight is buoyant when you’re in the water,” says Anna Scott, a former member of the U.S. National Swimming Team and a coach for more than 25 years, “so you’re bearing less percent of your overall weight, which means less strain on bones, joints and muscles.”
It’s good aerobic exercise. “The pool is a buoyant, supportive environment, so your body can take being in the water longer when you’re exercising,” says Scott, adding that with a little guidance, people can get up to swimming 45 minutes to an hour fairly quickly.
It’s for all types. “One of the many great things about swimming and exercising in a pool is that it’s adaptable to a lot of different people with different body types and exercise backgrounds,” says Scott.
If you haven’t been swimming for some time, Scott stresses the importance of re-learning good swimming form, because poor form can lead to an injury, particularly in your shoulders. “You probably haven’t had a swim lesson since you were young,” she says, “so take the time to go to a class or sign up for a lesson to get technique critiques, because your flexibility and mobility have changed, which means you may have to re-learn how to do your strokes.”
Don’t want to swim? Try these fun options.
A low-impact alternative to running on land, water running comes in two forms: shallow water running where you are in waist-deep water, running across the bottom of the pool; and deep water running where you are in deep enough water that your feet don’t touch the bottom of the pool and you wear a flotation belt like an AquaJogger. When water running, keep your body vertical in the water as much as possible, avoid leaning forward at the chest, and pump your arms and legs like pistons—similar to your motion running on a hard surface.
Like swimming, water aerobics are easy on your joints. But unlike swimming, water classes get you moving and jumping around versus going back and forth…and back and forth…in a lap lane. The latest rage is Aqua Zumba, a challenging workout of Latin American-style dance moves—under water! Or try Aqua Boot Camp, a cardio, interval and strength training class with props like Styrofoam “weights.” Check with your local pool to see what types of classes they offer.
Have a great water work out? Share it with us by commenting below.