When you’re active or exercise regularly, it’s not unlikely that you’ll experience aching joints or an overuse injury at some point. Your pain or injury could also be the result of a recent or past accident or fall. Or it could be tied to aging. Committing to exercising takes enough motivation to do when your body feels good, but it becomes especially challenging when something hurts.
One form of exercise that is good for the body, heart and even the mind is deep water running. According to certified fitness trainer Jennifer Conroyd, founder of Fluid Running, all you need is a flotation belt and access to water—a pool, lake or bay—where your feet don’t touch the bottom.
“Water running is done in the deep end of a pool (or a lake or bay) where your feet don’t touch the bottom. Wearing a flotation belt to hold you upright and mimicking land running form, this full-body, cardiovascular workout will give you all the benefits of running on land, and more, all without any negative impact on the body or sweating in hot weather,” she says.
Because your feet never touch the bottom, deep-water running does not cause stress to your joints. “The buoyancy of the water eliminates the impact that your joints sustain with most land-based workouts, yet water adds the benefit of 800 times more resistance than air. Mimicking land running form, the body must engage the core, arms, legs and glutes to power through the resistance. This not only strengthens those muscles, but gives your heart a good workout as well,” explains Conroyd.
Conroyd suggests a few tips to get started. First, find a pool (or lake) that’s deep enough where your feet won’t touch the bottom. For tips on finding a pool near you, visit Fluid Running’s “find a pool” page. Wear a flotation belt, which will give you a little “lift”; many pools have flotation belts available for use. If not, you’ll want to purchase one.
Beyond your swimsuit and towel, you might want to bring a water bottle and Bluetooth waterproof headphones if you have them. “Music makes any workout better!” says Conroyd. As for your workout, Conroyd suggests doing your best to mimic land running form and move your arms and legs quickly enough to get your heart rate up. “Intervals of 30 seconds to a minute are very effective and more challenging than you may think,” she says.
Fluid Running offers a workout-based app as well as a flotation belt and accessories to make water running interesting and fun. Give it a try!