- Activities performed in the water that promote and enhance physical and metal fitness.
- Water fitness is performed in a vertical position in shallow and/or deep water.
- There are numerous applications to appeal to a wide variety of participants.
- The water’s unique properties allow the pool to provide an environment for people of all abilities.
- Buoyancy creates a reduced impact exercise alternative that is easy on the joints, while the water’s resistance challenges the muscles.
- Water lends itself to a well-balanced workout that improves all major components of physical fitness – aerobic training, muscle strength and endurance, flexibility and body composition.
How is Water Fitness Different
In the water your body is buoyant and the impact to the joints during exercise is significantly less than on land.
Muscles must work against resistance to become developed and toned. Water provides substantially more resistance than air – at least 12 times the resistance – making each movement in the pool more challenging to the muscles.
Also, muscles typically work in pairs; i.e. biceps & triceps or quadriceps & hamstrings. When you move your body, or your limbs, through the water you are always encountering resistance. This helps to provide a more balanced workout as opposing muscles are involved, unlike on land where you typically need to reposition the body, or select a separate exercise, to provide adequate stimulation to both muscles of the pair.
Water cools more efficiently than air, so when exercising in the water the body is able to eliminate excess heat more effectively. This is not to say that you will not sweat during a workout in the pool, but water helps prevent overheating.
Heart rate responses differ when exercising in the water than when exercising on land. Typically, aquatic exercisers experience a reduced heart rate, but the water should not be considered less effective. Studies have shown that oxygen consumption is comparable to a similar program on land, although the heart rate response is lower.
On land, weight bearing is a primary factor for increasing calorie consumption, but in the water it appears that using the water’s resistance is more of a factor. One can estimate that combining upper and lower body movements in the pool would expend somewhere between 400 and 500 calories in a one hour class.
How can Water Fitness help me if I have…
Water workouts develop balance skills, which can help prevent falls, improve posture, which helps to distribute stress evenly along the spine, and provide all of the benefits of aerobic activity.[Reference Carol Clark, Water Well Volumes 4 & 5]
Arthritis and Osteoarthritis?
Water exercise is highly recommended to increase muscular strength and flexibility, which will ultimately lessen the load place upon the joints. Also, proper exercise will help maintain or increase bone density and provide nourishment to the joints.[Reference Dr. Karl Knopf, Fitness Educators of Older Adults (FEOAA)]
Exercising vigorously just once a week reduces your risk of Type II diabetes by 23%; exercising five or more times per week reduces the risk by 42%. Water exercise can provide a safe, comfortable form of exercise for individuals with diabetes.[Reference Dr. Karl Knopf, Fitness Educators of Older Adults (FEOAA)]
Women experiencing menopause will benefit from regular exercise program, and the water provides a comfortable and enjoyable fitness option. Three significant benefits related to menopause that a women, will obtain through regular water exercise are:
Maintain muscle mass and bone density.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Stimulation of HDL (good cholesterol).[Reference Joyce Hannah, MA, MS, FEOAA Newsletter, Vol. 5 Issue 3, Summer 1998]
Besides the fact that women will feel safe with regard to falls and trauma during exercise, the warm water will offer a pleasant, safe and relaxing environment. With immersion in the water, there is a reduction of the physical weight distributed to the joints. Also during pregnancy, the water may be more suitable than land-based training for prevention of overheating during exercise. Water exercise has been shown to reduce swelling often associated with pregnancy, improves circulation, provides a balanced workout, and enhances balance, coordination and posture.[References: J. Douglas Gil, AKWA letter, Vol. 12 No. 3]