The term water aerobics has gotten a bad rep, constantly coming off as an easy exercise performed in the shallow end of the pool. However, water aerobics applies to several different water activities that increase your breathing and heart rate such as swimming laps, treading water or water running. Want to find out why you should try water aerobics? Keep reading!
According to Harvard Health Publishing, exercising in water allows your body and joints to move more easily due to the buoyancy of the water and lack of stress on the joints. For those in pain, the lack of stress on the problematic areas decreases the discomfort, while the water resistance allows the muscles to strengthen and can relieve pain in the future. The lack of stress on the joints in no way means these workouts are easy! In fact, the water resistance helps you burn more calories in less time by activating all the body’s muscles to constantly fight against that resistance.
If you can push past the feeling of “I will look silly if I try water aerobics,” this form of exercise might quickly become your favorite workout, especially in the Florida heat.
What Kinds of Water Exercises Are There?
Of course, we all know the regular lap swimming, but there are so many other variations to try. One of the most well- known water exercises is water aerobics, which typically consists of a wide variety of movements. Very close to water aerobics but slightly more challenging is aqua HIIT, which is a combination of fast-paced, intensive cardio exercises followed by periods of rest. For an extra fun approach, aqua Zumba, much like a regular Zumba class, has an instructor on land who teaches you different choreography to perform along with a song. There are several other types of classes including aqua yoga, aqua Pilates, ballet barre and even running with underwater treadmills!
What Do I Need?
The bare minimum to adding water exercise to your fitness regimen is access to a pool, a bathing suit, sunblock and a great attitude. If you are keeping your head above water and incorporating water aerobics such as walking, running or jumping, that is about all you need. To increase the difficulty or variety of movements, you can purchase a foam float belt, foam dumbbells or water weights. If you are incorporating swimming laps around the pool, buy a silicone or latex swim cap and a pair of goggles. Click here for great water gear products, like a float foam belt and foam sandals.
Isn’t Water Aerobics For the Elderly?
While portrayed in movies as mostly an activity for senior citizens, water exercises can be beneficial for everyone! Minor adjustments to the exercises, such as adding foam dumbbells or weights, can increase the difficulty of the workout and meet your physical needs. As mentioned above, the water allows minimal stress to be placed on the joints, making this a great form of exercise for pregnant women, senior citizens and anyone with pain in their joints or back. In addition, water activities can be a great regular physical activity for those diagnosed with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, water exercises are beneficial activities to battle diabetes complications such as nephropathy, peripheral neuropathy, retinopathy, peripheral vascular disease and osteoporosis (or arthritis).
Water Exercises You Can Incorporate Now:
This classic form of exercise is a sure way to get your heart rate up and gain strong, lean muscle. If you are a good swimmer, try incorporating 30 laps of your choice of stroke (freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke or butterfly). If swimming is not your strong suit, try grabbing a kickboard and kicking flutter kicks across the pool. With the round part of the board facing away from you, rest your arms straight on top of the board, grip the round edge and kick to propel yourself forward.
DEEP WATER RUNNING
This exercise is amazing for those who love to run but are struggling with a leg injury. Wrap a float foam belt around your waist and jump in a section on the pool where you cannot touch the bottom. It is critical to keep your back straight and upright while pedaling your legs and arms. It is also very important to pedal your legs at a quick pace to avoid bad form and causing another injury.
In the shallow end, place your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width. Sitting your butt back, squat down slowly for three seconds until your chin hits the water. Then in one count, rapidly jump up as high as you can out of the water while pushing your arms straight towards the sky. Do 10 squat jumps, keeping the rhythm. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat three times.
Start by standing in the shallow end with your hands by your sides. In a quick one count, bend your knees slightly and then jump up. As you jump, simultaneously bring your knees up to the surface and quickly bring your hands along the surface to touch your knees. As you come down, quickly swipe your hands down into the water back into the start position. Do 30 rapid knees ups, rest 30 seconds and repeat three times.
Just like the knee-ups, begin in the shallow end by bending your knees slightly and jumping up. When you jump up, open your legs into a wide “V” shape toward the bottom of the pool while your arms quickly extend to a wide “V” shape in the air. As you come down, return to the start position. Do three sets of 10 starfish jumps, resting in between.
Grab one foam dumbbell in each hand, hold them close to your body by your shoulders, and bend your elbows in by your sides while standing in the shallow end. Powerfully punch one hand forward through the water until extended while keeping your thumbs pointing toward the sky. Alternate hands and complete three sets of 20 punches per hand. To make it more difficult, each time you punch, push the opposite leg forward into a lunge. Switch legs when you switch arms.
Local Water Aerobics Classes
Taking up a new form of exercise can be daunting, and it can be difficult to complete the workout if you don’t know where to start. Here are a few instructor-led programs in Gainesville to help guide you into water exercises!
Water Aerobics; 300clubswimandtennis.com
*Free for members, $10 per class for non members
Aquatics at Haile Plantation Golf & Country Club
Aqua Aerobics; clubcorp.com/Clubs/Haile-Plantation- Golf-Country-Club
*Membership required (Living in Haile Plantation not required)
Gainesville Health and Fitness
Lap Swim Class, Aqua HIIT, Hydro Barre, Aqua Yoga, Aqua Tread & Shed Aqua Pilates Challenge; ghfc.com
Local Public Pools
*Rates vary per class; Contact the local pools for a schedule
North Central Florida YMCA
Silver Sneakers Splash, Water Aerobics, Aqua Zumba; ncfymca.org
Sun Country Sports Center
Non-swimmer Classes (teaching basics of how to swim); suncountrysports.com
*Rates vary for members and non-members
Due to COVID-19, some pools may not be open yet.