The pool is a great place to get a workout of the perfect intensity, whether you're an Olympic triathlete or just want a change from your regular land workout. Water exercise is popular with senior citizens and others with physical limitations because it is extremely low-impact but provides plenty of natural resistance. Inexpensive pool noodles make a cheap, multipurpose water workout tool.
Even in the water, a cardiovascular warm-up is important: It increases your heart rate to burn fat, improves your lung capacity and prepares your muscles for strength work. Wrap a pool noodle around your back and under your arms for support as you flutter your feet in front of you for 100 counts. Then quickly pulse your feet apart and together 50 times. Alternate pulling your knees to your chest 50 times. Move the noodle in front of you across the chest and repeat the exercises. Your feet should remain off the bottom of the pool during this warm-up.
To work the core muscles, sit on the noodle as though it was a swing and extend the legs forward and down as you lean back for balance, slowly contract the stomach muscles to pull the knees to the chest, then return to the starting position.
Drape your arms over the noodle so your body is hanging down, then lift your legs toward the surface in front of you, either bending the knees to the chest or with straight legs for greater intensity.
With straight arms, hold the noodle at your hips and, rounding your back, push the noodle as far down your legs as you can, then return to the starting position.
For the obliques, hold the noodle in front of you in shoulder-high water and, with both hands, pull the noodle down to the right hip as you rotate your shoulders as if to bring them perpendicular to the hips; return to the starting position and then rotate to the left side.
Work up to three sets of 12 to 18 repetitions for each exercise in this and the next two sections.
Simulate a push-up by pressing the noodle straight down in front of you and bend your elbows to let it slowly rise back to your chest; the higher the legs are held behind you, the more intense the exercise.
For a chest fly, stand in shoulder-high water and squeeze the ends of the noodle together to work the pectorals. Hold the noodle with arms extended in front of you and use straight arms to press the noodle down to your upper thighs.
Squeeze the noodle ends together behind you to work the upper back muscles and triceps. With the noodle held behind your back, slide the noodle up the back and then press it down again.
Place the noodle under the arches of your feet and stand on it, then bend your knees to 90 degrees and press them straight again. This squat exercise also can be done on each leg. Remain standing on the noodle and take sideways steps from one end of the noodle to the other for balance and inner and outer thigh work.
Holding on to the side of the pool, shape the noodle into a U between your ankles and squeeze your feet together.
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