If you’re struggling with regular land workouts or you’re bored with monotonous gym routines, switch things up and get into a pool.
Working out in water is particularly helpful for people with injuries in the muscle, tendon, and bone, overweight or obese individuals, pregnant women, and the elderly. But the health benefits of water aerobics are not limited to just them.
If you can’t swim or you’re afraid of water, stand in shallow water. Water aerobics in shallow water is just as effective. Dangle your feet in the water awhile and gradually make your way in.
It goes without saying, water exercise is a great way to stay refreshed during your entire workout as opposed to dealing with the stickiness and fatigue typical of a land routine. Not to mention, it’s a lot of fun. No wonder so many athletes include water workouts in their training.
If you’re concerned about not knowing how to swim, here’s some more good news. You don’t need to! You don’t even have to get your hair wet for that matter.
Health Benefits Of Water Exercise Or Water Aerobics
Focus on vertical workouts and not just swimming as they seem to be more effective.
The two essential advantages of water exercises are:
- More resistance: Water is denser than air, which means it provides a greater resistance to your movements.
- Less pain and fatigue: Water offers a buoyancy that reduces the impact of exercises on your body.
These will help you intensify your workout while minimizing negative effects like pain and fatigue. Now, check out the water aerobics benefits.
1. Strengthens Muscles And Builds Stamina
Aerobics, in general, focuses on large muscles such as those in your limbs.1 Combine it with water resistance and you’re left with stronger muscles.2
The force of water from all directions on your body’s surface acts like weights tied all over your body, doing what dumbbells and kettlebells would do if you were working out on land – but on a larger scale.
Warm up outside the pool with exercises you intend to do in the water, like spot jogging or high knees. This will help you maintain proper form while doing the same exercises in water.
What’s more, you can work 2 opposing muscle groups simultaneously in water, whereas on land you will probably need to focus on one group at a time. In the basic pull and push movements of your arms and legs in water, you will be able to develop more stamina without feeling the brunt of it. Water buoyancy will be your new best friend.
Spot jog or sprint in the water from one end of the pool to the other. Want to take it easy? Wade around and have fun. It’s still good for you!
2. Improves Flexibility And Range Of Motion
While exercising on land, your body movements are restricted by the effects of gravity and the fear of falling. When in water, you can let go of these worries. You can fearlessly increase your range of motion, exerting muscles that you would not otherwise be able to exert outside water.
Do water exercises to improve back and lower body flexibility. While performing stretches, overcome your mental block about your range of motion.
In a study on patients with osteoarthritis, aquatic exercises were seen to significantly improve knee and hip flexibility without any side effects.3 In another study, patients with a degenerative spinal condition too enjoyed improved flexibility and a greater range of motion after participating in an aquatic exercise program.4
3. Offers Relief From Chronic Pain
Gentle waves hitting against you have a massaging effect on your skin – which is why a major benefit of water exercise is pain relief. By working against the water’s resistance, you can reduce stiffness and soreness to a great extent.5
Water aerobics can heal lower back pain caused by pregnancy.
Water aerobics can even alleviate pain from chronic conditions like knee and hip osteoarthritis.6
Aquatic aerobics are highly recommended for pregnant women suffering from lower back pain.7 People suffering from soreness due to extensive physical activity or stiffness due to joint problems should definitely give it a try too.
The best part? All types of pain will improve – pain in your joints, muscles, and everything in between.
4. Supports Bone Health By Increasing Bone Density
Most people reach their peak bone mass by the age of 30. Thereafter, bone density declines, increasing the chances for osteoporosis and fractures.8 The loss in bone mass is a major problem of aging, particularly in postmenopausal women. Postmenopausal women over the age of 50 have the highest risk of osteoporosis.
Only high-impact exercises can help decelerate this natural process. Water aerobics is a high-impact workout and can, thus, improve bone health.9
Having said that, while water aerobics helps strengthen your skeletal system, land-based exercises seem to be more effective.
5. Rectifies Body Posture And Treats Spine Problems
By just standing in the pool, you will be able to correct your overall body posture.
The buoyancy of water supports the entire body, including weak muscles, allowing you to maintain proper balance when standing in water. With the added advantage of improved flexibility and mobility, exercising in water will benefit your posture. You will be able to elongate your spine to the entirety of its natural length without any discomfort.10 The water resistance will also make you more self-aware of your posture, helping you further.
According to Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine, water exercises have significant benefits on the lumbar spine.11 In a 12-week study on individuals whose spinal columns were progressively narrowing, water exercise helped improve their condition significantly.12
Water aerobics can be of immense therapeutic value if you have scoliosis, back pain, or other spine problems, or if you are beginning to hunch because of old age.
6. Encourages Weight Loss
Aerobic workouts are the best for losing weight, even more so if you’re worried about injuries common in weight training.13 A 185-pound person can burn 178 Calories after 30 minutes of water aerobics.14
Aquatic exercises are highly recommended for those fighting obesity. With the help of water’s buoyancy, you will be able to decrease body fat, much more than ground exercises.15 The feeling of weightlessness and the ease on your joints will allow you to do a lot more than what you may normally be able to do.
7. Protects The Heart By Lowering Blood Pressure
With reduced risks of obesity and a lower blood pressure, the chances of you contracting a heart disease will be slimmer.
Water aerobics improve blood circulation in your body. In one study, a 10-week course of water aerobics markedly reduced blood pressure in patients diagnosed with high blood pressure.16
Also, with the force of water on the lower half of your body, blood can easily return to your heart without your heart having to work extra hard for it. So, while you expect your heart rate to increase as much as it would if you exercised on land, the increase is much lower. Don’t let your heart rate be a measure of your workout intensity when exercising in water.
8. Promotes Healthy Bowel Function
Thanks to all the muscle toning and strengthening, your pelvic muscles too get a good workout. This will help prevent incontinence by restricting the movement of stool in the intestines. You will gain more control over your bowel movement, allowing nature to call only when you want it to through voluntary bowel movement.17 Bowel movements will be comfortable and easy.18
So, if you’re dealing with bowel problems, do some water exercises. If weak pelvic muscles are the culprit, this activity will help.
9. Gets Rid Of Stress
Like all forms of exercise, water workouts too help reduce stress by releasing feel-good hormones called endorphins.19 In addition, they encourage oxygen flow to your muscles and regulate your breathing.
Just being around water is also relaxing. No wonder water sounds are used for meditation!
Water Aerobics Is Good For Injury Rehabilitation
Fitness enthusiasts and marathon runners often pull muscles or have to endure painful discomfort due to long-term training. They can continue to maintain their form and fitness levels in water – but without any pressure on their injured joints or muscles. Because water is easy on the joints, relieves pain, and offers visibly therapeutic effects, we advise you to try aquatic aerobics and accelerate your recovery.
For those whose walking ability is compromised, aqua walking may help. Loss of balance, painful joints and muscles, and asymmetrically injured structures typically linked with a walking disability can be supported by water walking to a great extent.20
Through water aerobics, you can practice a combination of endurance-strength training while minimizing your risks of injury. You have the water’s buoyancy and resistance to thank for this. This is also a safe form of exercise for people with multiple illnesses.21
Water Exercises Are Perfect For Seniors
It requires a conscious effort to remain fit as you age – something we all want but struggle to do. Water workouts can step in and save the day. Here’s how.
Aquatic exercise may be beneficial for those with less tolerance for weight-bearing activities, particularly the elderly.22
- You will experience no physical stress: Water aerobics suits all ages. Because of the buoyancy effect of water, aqua exercises can help relieve arthritis and joint pain and improve bone density and muscle mass in seniors.23 As we can surmise, the help that water provides with posture and balance can allow elderly individuals to perform exercises that they would not normally be able to.
- You don’t need to fear falling: Elderly people are more prone to falling than young and mid-aged populations. This may be because of the inevitable joint instability, muscle imbalance, and reduced lower body strength that comes with old age.24 25 A study was conducted on 15 elderly individuals to measure the effect of aqua exercise on fall-related issues. Aqua exercise therapy helped heal fall-related injuries and reduced further risks of falling in the test subjects.26
So, if you’re a senior citizen, you might want to consider incorporating a water aerobics routine into your weekly schedule. A couple of days a week would work just fine.
Exert Caution While Performing Water Aerobics
- It’s not just OK, but it’s actually recommended for expecting mothers to regularly indulge in water aerobics. Many pre-natal classes feature swimming components. That said, you should still play it safe and avoid strenuous moves.27
- If you feel any discomfort while doing any particular exercise, stop what you are doing and seek the advice of a certified water aerobics instructor.
- If your mobility is limited, stay in shallow water. Tell your instructor about your condition, and don’t try anything new without proper guidance.
- If you’re intimidated by working out in the water, take baby steps and first spend some time in a shallow pool. As you gain courage and confidence, hold on to the sides of the pool and start walking around. Once you do it regularly, you’ll soon be able to up your game and try more challenging moves.
|↑1||Types of Physical Activity. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. National Institutes of Health|
|↑2, ↑21||Dziubek, Wioletta, Katarzyna Bulińska, Łukasz Rogowski, Tomasz Gołębiowski, Mariusz Kusztal, Monika Grochola, Dominika Markowska et al. “The effects of aquatic exercises on physical fitness and muscle function in dialysis patients.” BioMed research international 2015 (2015).|
|↑3||Wang, Tsae‐Jyy, Basia Belza, F. Elaine Thompson, Joanne D. Whitney, and Kim Bennett. “Effects of aquatic exercise on flexibility, strength and aerobic fitness in adults with osteoarthritis of the hip or knee.” Journal of advanced nursing 57, no. 2 (2007): 141-152.|
|↑4, ↑12||Lee, Jae-Hyun, and Eunsook Sung. “The effects of aquatic walking and jogging program on physical function and fall efficacy in patients with degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis.” Journal of exercise rehabilitation 11, no. 5 (2015): 272.|
|↑5, ↑10, ↑17||Aquatic Exercise. American Parkinson Disease Association, Inc.|
|↑6||Bartels, Else Marie, Hans Lund, Kåre Birger Hagen, Hanne Dagfinrud, Robin Christensen, and Bente Danneskiold‐Samsøe. “Aquatic exercise for the treatment of knee and hip osteoarthritis.” The Cochrane Library (2007).|
|↑7||Granath, Aina B., Margareta SE Hellgren, and Ronny K. Gunnarsson. “Water aerobics reduces sick leave due to low back pain during pregnancy.” Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing 35, no. 4 (2006): 465-471.|
|↑8||Osteoporosis: Peak Bone Mass in Women. NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center.|
|↑9, ↑11||Simas, Vini, Wayne Hing, Rodney Pope, and Mike Climstein. “Effects of water-based exercise on bone health of middle-aged and older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine 8 (2017): 39.|
|↑13||Health Benefits of Aquatic Exercise. The University of Arizona.|
|↑14||Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights. Harvard Health Publications Harvard Medical School.|
|↑15||Lee, Bo-Ae, and Deuk-Ja Oh. “The effects of aquatic exercise on body composition, physical fitness, and vascular compliance of obese elementary students.” Journal of exercise rehabilitation 10, no. 3 (2014): 184.|
|↑16||Farahani, Ali Vasheghani, Mohammad-Ali Mansournia, Hossein Asheri, Akbar Fotouhi, Masud Yunesian, Mohsen Jamali, and Vahid Ziaee. “The effects of a 10-week water aerobic exercise on the resting blood pressure in patients with essential hypertension.” (2010).|
|↑18||Bowel Function Anatomy. University of Michigan Health System.|
|↑19||Sprouse-Blum, Adam S., Greg Smith, Daniel Sugai, and F. Don Parsa. “Understanding endorphins and their importance in pain management.” Hawaii Med J 69, no. 3 (2010): 70-1.|
|↑20||Aquatic Rehabilitation. Pursuit Health Management.|
|↑22||Exercise and Physical Activity for Older Adults. American College of Sports Medicine.|
|↑23||Water Walking 101. Arthritis Foundation.|
|↑24||Chou, Li-Shan, Kenton R. Kaufman, Ann E. Walker-Rabatin, Robert H. Brey, and Jeffrey R. Basford. “Dynamic instability during obstacle crossing following traumatic brain injury.” Gait & Posture 20, no. 3 (2004): 245-254.|
|↑25||Ashton-Miller, James A. “Age-associated changes in the biomechanics of gait and gait-related falls in older adults.” Neurological Disease and Therapy 73 (2005): 63.|
|↑26||Effects of Aqua Aerobic Therapy Exercise for Older Adults on Muscular Strength, Agility and Balance to Prevent Falling during Gait. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑27||Exercises in pregnancy. NHS Choices.|