According to the Aquatic Exercise Association, more than 5 million people in the United States alone engage in aquatic exercise programs, sometimes referred to as water fitness, aqua fitness, aquatics, water aerobics, water fitness or aquafit exercises. Aquatic exercise consists of muscle conditioning and aerobics, and it offers a host of health benefits to people at all fitness levels.
To learn aquatic exercises, you can try live classes or home study tools, such as e-books and DVDs. Classes are usually offered at local facilities such as pool centers, health clubs and hospitals. If you choose to take a class, be sure to research your options because the focus and format of instruction can vary greatly. Most classes cover total body conditioning, but some focus on specific areas (targeting abs, for example) or rehabilitative techniques to assist with pregnancy, arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Also, some classes focus on training participants for specific types of swimming, such as deep water workouts.
While many water exercises only require that you wear approved swimwear, some require equipment to provide additional support for flotation or resistance. Swim noodles, also called pool noodles and water noodles, are among the devices used for flotation. Increased resistance can be offered through equipment such as aqua bar bells, hand paddles, and ankle and wrist weights.
To prevent your body from overheating and to ensure that muscles respond properly during exercise, pool temperatures should be maintained between 82 and 87 degrees Fahrenheit. Aquatic exercises are unique because the water’s buoyancy and currents force you to hold your position in the water, which promotes muscle strength, according to the Canadian Aquafitness Leaders Alliance. Also, muscle conditioning is further accelerated in water because water is around 1,000 times denser than air, which inherently creates resistance.
The American Council on Exercise reports that aquatic exercises provide numerous health benefits that include potential weight loss and increased cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, flexibility and stamina. By performing exercises in the water, your body weight is reduced 75 to 90 percent from water’s gravity offset, which ultimately results in less stress on your joints and bones. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to get the maximum health benefit from exercise, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week, and a minimum of two days of resistance activities that engage all the major muscle groups. An aquatic exercise program is a safe and effective way to accomplish both of these goals.
- Swimming.org: Get Started
- Enjoy-Swimming.com: Water Noodles as Swimming Aids
- American Council on Exercise/ACE Fitness: Make a Splash With Water Fitness
- Aquatic Exercise Association: FAQs About Fitness
- Canadian Aquafitness Leaders Alliance: Water's Magical Properties and Benefits
- Canadian Aquafitness Leaders Alliance: Class Types
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Human Kinetics: Water Exercise and Fitness
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