Just this morning I was swimming in the community pool where I live and I started thinking about all of my patients who could really benefit from this type of workout. So, my intention here is to motivate you to try it for yourself. It is a fantastic exercise! If you don’t know how to swim, here’s more good news. You don’t need to! You don’t even have to get your hair wet for that matter. You can swim if you like, but vertical workouts in the water seem to be even more effective.
Water is denser than air, which means it provides greater resistance to your movements. Resistance in water is proportional to the effort exerted against it; it totally depends on your need and ranges between 5 and 40 times greater than in air, depending on the speed of movement. This makes water a natural and instantly-adjustable weight-training machine. Unlike most land-based exercise, water provides resistance to movement in all directions, which allows many muscles to be used in the strengthening process. The harder you push, the more intense your workout. When you add water fitness equipment, such as buoyancy belts, webbed gloves, floats, and foot-ware, resistance is increased to strengthen and tone muscles. Less pain and fatigue: Water offers buoyancy and support that reduces the impact of exercises on your body. When you are in shoulder-deep water, you only have to support about 10% of your actual body weight. Moving muscles and joints in all directions lessen the post-workout soreness.
Studies show that water exercise had significant benefits for adults who were obese or overweight.
• Walking in water requires more effort and ultimately burns more calories than walking on land.
• Participants lost a higher body fat percentage walking in water compared to a land-based treadmill
• Privacy of the water: if you hate the idea of jumping around a room full of people in tight gym clothes, exercising underwater is a great alternative. 90% of participants preferred aquatic exercise compared to traditional land-based exercise.
Water exercise is great for people who have problems with their spine, hips, knees, ankles, feet or shoulders. It provides an anti-stress, zero-gravity environment for gentle movement, without compressing the spine.
Water exercise can be performed more easily by people who find lifting weights, or even weight-bearing exercise, difficult or painful on dry land. Blood pressure is usually 15-20 points lower with water exercise compared to the land because the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to move blood through the blood vessels.
Start slowly and listen to your body. First, walk-in chest-deep water, moving faster as you warm up. Add your arms in a swimming or sculling motion to strengthen shoulders and back muscles. You can also “cycle” in the deepwater for no weight bearing at all. You can do any movement in the water that you can do on land. Try push-ups on the second step of the pool. Kick your legs as you do the push-up to engage your entire body. You can run in the pool, jump up in the air, and then pull your knees up to your chest. No matter what your level of fitness, water exercise and swimming are great ways to increase your fitness, tone, and strength, while having fun and cooling off. Give it a try and see how you like it!
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