Swimming offers lots of amazing health benefits, but it isn’t the only way to get a great workout in the water. The pool provides an excellent environment in which to get your heart pumping with aerobic exercise for cardiovascular benefits and to build muscle and strength with resistance training.
As an added benefit, aquatic exercises are low impact. That means they don’t add undue strain to your joints, bones, and muscles. This is perfect for older adults, people undergoing physical therapy or rehabilitation for certain types of conditions and injuries, and others who need to minimize impact. Exercise and simply being in the water are also excellent ways to melt stress away.
Even if you’re not a trained swimmer with a good handle on proper techniques that facilitate effective swim workouts, it’s not hard to enjoy the benefits of hitting the pool. The various types of aquatic exercise make it possible for anyone to get into the water to get into better shape and a better mood. Below are just some of the options.
Walk in Waist-High Water
Yes, that’s all it takes to get a workout in the pool. Walking itself is so good for you, and the added resistance from the water adds considerable value. Walk normally through the water—not on your tiptoes—swinging your arms as you would on land. Keep your back straight and ab muscles tight, avoiding leaning forward or to the side.
Add Resistance When Walking in Water
The higher the water reaches up your torso, the more resistance you have. To take things up a notch from walking in waist-high water, simply move to chest-high water. Cap it there, though; you don’t want to be walking through water that comes up to your neck. You can also add resistance at your hands just by keeping your fingers pressed together or wearing hand webs. And, as one other option to increase the intensity of this aquatic exercise, try jogging rather than walking.
Aquatic Arm Workout with Hand Webs
Using a pair of hand webs, there’s an easy way to mimic the benefits of bicep curls in the water. Stand in waist-high water with your hand webs on. Put your arms straight down at your sides, elbows close to your body and palms facing forward. Keeping your elbows close and your wrists straight, lift your palms and forearms to the surface, parallel to the floor. As you elevate your arms, contract your biceps and relax them when your arms come to a rest at the surface. Then, flip your palms over and press down, returning your forearms to the starting position. Perform repetitions until your arm muscles become fatigued. Alternatively, foam dumbbells made for use in the water are available.
Aquatic Arm Workout with a Kickboard
Kickboards are another convenient pool accessory for resistance training that builds muscle and strengthens bones. Stand up straight in chest-high water with your legs slightly apart. Extend your right arm out to your side at the surface of the water, palm facing you. Holding the kickboard lengthwise and perpendicular to the pool floor, grip the back end of board in your right hand. Fold your left arm across you to hold the curved end of the board in place against your right arm. Bring your right arm in toward your chest, holding your elbow still and close to your body. Return your right arm out to your side and perform reps until your arm is fatigued. Then repeat the exercise with your left arm.
Aquatic Leg Lifts
These are an easy option for building leg muscles in the water. Stand straight up with your back against the pool wall in waist-high water. Extend your arms along the pool ledge and hold onto it to keep your balance. Straighten one leg out in front of you and then bend your knee down at a 90-degree angle. Lift your foot to extend your leg fully and then bend it back down again. Repeat until your leg is fatigued, then do the other leg. Make this exercise harder and more effective by adding resistance. You can do that with swim fins or just by tying a pool noodle around the ankle of the leg you’re exercising.