Exercise in the Water Back »

Many people participate in exercise to improve their health status, reduce disease risk, modify body composition and improve all around physical fitness. In order to receive the best results from an exercise routine, it is important to choose an exercise that uses the large muscles of the body in a continuous, rhythmical fashion, and that is relatively easy to maintain at a consistent intensity.1 However, in the summer it is sometimes very difficult to get outside and participate in exercise due to the heat. Choosing an exercise in the water can be a great option for those who are sensitive to exercise in the heat.

Water Exercise Benefits

Exercise in the water can vary from swimming laps, water aerobics and water running. Each of these exercises are associated with many benefits such as:

  1. Safe and Low impact. The buoyancy thrust of the water can help eliminate the effects of gravity and thus eliminate the harsh impact on our bones and joints that can occur on other land-based activities like running. Exercising in the water decreases stress on our bones and joints and can encourage a more free range of motion.
  2. Resistance All Over. Being surrounded by water provides constant resistance in all directions. Movements in the water can allow for a natural means of muscle strengthening. The level of resistance can be altered by adjusting the speed of movement, doing movements close/far from the water’s surface and using exercise equipment.
  3. Enhance Weight Loss. Water creates more resistance than air, so therefore it takes more energy to walk at a given intensity in water than on land. In addition, exercising under water provides more privacy for those uncomfortable exercising in a gym or on land.
  4. Stress Reliever. Like other regular exercise routines, water workouts stimulate the brain to release chemicals that make our body feel good. In addition, doing exercise in warm water or outside in nature, can result in an extra calming effect.
  5. Anyone can do it! Exercise in the water is not specific to one type of person. Those that can participate in exercise in the water can range from elderly, trained athletes, pregnant women, children, individuals rehabbing from an injury and more! Exercise in the water is great because it can easily be tailored to fit an individual’s personal fitness level.

Remember, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous activity a week for cardiovascular exercise. In addition, it is recommended that adults should train major muscle groups 2 to 3 times a week to strengthen muscles. Exercise in the water is a great means of meeting these recommendations. As always, please practice safe strategies by making sure you are in a comfortable depth of water to avoid drowning and water related injuries such as muscle cramping. For more information on safety in the water, visit PoolSafely.gov.


Reference: 1Kravits, Len, Vella, Chantal A. Energy Expenditure in Different Modes of Exercise.

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