Exercising in the pool is more gentle on your joints, since the buoyancy puts less stress on your body and slows down your movements to reduce risk of injury. Swimming is excellent exercise for cardio training, and it is one of the best overall body workouts that you can do because it works your muscles as well as achieving a good workout heart rate.
But laps can be boring, and some individuals may not be at the level of fitness to be able to do them. That’s why water aerobics are an excellent way for those of us beyond a certain age to exercise and get fit. Water exercises also help relieve arthritis and joint pain, while helping increase your bone density and muscle mass for improved overall fitness.
Luckily, many local gyms and fitness centers (those with a pool, of course) offer aqua aerobics classes for all ages. They can be general water workouts, or specialized toward different types of aerobic activities such as dancing. Classes typically last about an hour, and you should expect the water to be roughly the height of your chest at most pools.
The following are some fun, easy water aerobics exercises. Before you try them, speak with your doctor about how your body might mesh with water aerobics, and always be aware of your limits.
Build up strength in your legs as well as getting a good cardio workout by doing flutter kicks in the pool. These can be done with a kickboard, by holding it out in front of you to maintain buoyancy as you kick across the pool and back. Flutter kicks don’t require a kickboard, although these are relatively inexpensive. To do this exercise without a kickboard, use the side of the pool to stabilize yourself and do a front float while kicking. Keep a steady tempo so that you don’t tire out too quickly.
Leg Swings and Lifts
The water provides gentle resistance that you can use to develop more muscle strength. Work your different leg muscle groups by doing leg lifts and leg swings. For both moves, stand at the side of the pool with the water approximately the height of your lower back. Use the poolside to keep your balance as you lift one leg to the side and back down, and repeat until it feels tired to alternate to the other leg. To do leg swings, simply lift the leg straight out in front of you and hold it out for five seconds, then swing it behind you and hold for five seconds. Repeat about a dozen times and switch to the other leg.
You can use water weights to increase resistance when doing arm curls in the pool. Stand wherever you like in the pool, as long as the water comes up to your shoulders (you can sit or kneel to get this depth, if necessary). Hold the weights parallel with your body and curl your arms up and back down again to complete this move. Alternate by holding the weights with your palms facing away to exercise your forearms and triceps, and by holding the weights with your palms facing up to work out your biceps.
Head to a deeper area of the pool where the water comes up to your neck for arm circles. It will help to stand near the edge if you think you’ll need some help balancing. While standing with one foot in front and one foot behind you, lift your arms to your sides, resting just below the water’s surface. Keep your palms down and arms straight while moving your arms in a circular motion for 10-15 seconds, then switch directions and repeat.
While running on the land may be too high-impact for older adults, jogging in the pool is the perfect aerobic exercise to get blood flowing and increase your heart rate for a healthy workout. You can jog through from one side of the pool top the other, or jog in place if you have limited room to use. If you’re not quite ready to jog, you can start by walking or marching until you can take on more of a challenge.
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