Let the swimming pool become your new best friend. The pool is an ideal way to enjoy a number of fun aquatic exercises, regardless of your swimming ability. It is a great all-inclusive workout that improves both your physical and mental health.
Ranging from aqua aerobics, aqua running, strength training, traditional lap swimming and hydrotherapy, these interesting and safe exercises can be modified to suit your fitness level.
Unload your Joints
Oftentimes it is both safer and more comfortable to perform aerobic fitness training in the water compared to other forms of exercise on land. Aquatic exercise provides an environment where your body weight is supported and your joints unloaded by the buoyancy of the water. This means pain caused by land exercise, impact and loading is reduced and the risk of falling is minimised.
The physical benefits of an aquatic workout are amazing, especially for stiff or weakened joints and muscles. The water provides natural resistance against the entire body, which means that your muscles work harder as they push against the water.
For the fitness fanatics, you can also use water devices such as foam dumbbells, pool noodles, hand paddles and flippers to increase the intensity of the workout. This builds muscle tone and improves strength and mobility.
Increase your Flexibility
Due to reduced pressure on joints and muscles, flexibility training is also easier in the water. This is particularly useful following knee or hip reconstructive surgery. The pool allows you to move easily into stretches and eventually increase the range of movement at joints.
These flexibility advantages will also translate into land-based activities. You will find that the gains made in the water will produce improved comfort and mobility in daily activities around the house.
Aquatic exercise is also great for weight loss. Due to the constant resistance through the water, it is a form of exercise that burns a lot of energy. This means it can help to efficiently reduce body fat and improve your cardio fitness.
Along with the physical benefits, water-based exercise provides mental and social benefits as well. Aqua classes are often performed with groups of people who attend regularly, thus makes it easy to make friends and socialise with other people. Ongoing personable human interaction can help ward off depression and feelings of loneliness.
Exercising in general improves mood by releasing endorphins, which are feel-good hormones in the brain, leaving you feeling on top of the world each time you jump out of the pool.
Aquatic exercise is fun for every age, size and fitness level. Enquire at your local pool for timetables for available classes.
Gabrielle Maston is a personal trainer, dietitian and exercise physiologist.