Exercising, in or out of the water, is about getting and staying fit. Aqua aerobics, one of the most rapidly growing trends in exercise today, is practiced by people of all ages, including children and the elderly, both in backyard as well as community center pools. This no- to low-impact, yet high-results form of exercise is ideal for weight loss, athletic training, pregnant women, rehabilitation, and stroke victims, to name a few. It is also highly effective for those suffering from chronic diseases or conditions that are exacerbated by impact or involve total body pain, such as arthritis, partial paralysis or fibromyalgia.
For specialized situations, such as those listed above, be sure to consult with a doctor before beginning any exercise routine. If your doctor does not have any resources for you, a quick search on the Internet will give you options in your area. So if you have a backyard pool, or if access to a community pool, this quick list of tips and routines will put you on the path to wellness faster than you can say “Marco Polo!”
Tips for Starting a Water Aerobics Routine
1. Get the right equipment. Invest in inexpensive gear for your hands and your feet. Water shoes will give you better traction, but also protect the soles of your feet, especially toes, from abrasions. If you plan to work out daily in the pool, or for more than a half hour at a time, water shoes are important. Webbed gloves will maximize the intensity of your upper body workout by adding resistance to your arm movements.
2. Stay hydrated. Just because you’re in the pool doesn’t mean you can’t get dehydrated. Drink plenty of water in the hours leading up to your pool workout, and be sure to have a water container nearby for breaks during your exercise routine.
3. Be comfortable. Wear clothing that won’t chafe or rub, or come off! Suits designed for lying by the pool and looking lovely aren’t necessarily the best ones for exercising in the water. In fact, nylon water shorts are increasingly popular for women and widely available in stores and online. Tops should also be comfortable, and free of distracting straps or ties that may need adjusting.
Once you are properly outfitted for aqua aerobics, follow these simple routines or the links above to more advanced water workouts.
- Aqua walking/jogging: One of the fastest ways to get fit on land is equally effective in the water, especially for people with chronic conditions that require low or even no-impact to their joints and muscles. Pool running is also an ideal way for injured athletes to stay in top cardiovascular shape while recovering. A water buoyancy belt for the deep end allows you to duplicate your land-running form. If that isn’t important to you (if you are not a long-distance runner, for example), try it without the belt for an extra challenge.
- Basic arm exercises (bicep curl): Using webbed gloves, stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Begin with arms extended down to next thighs and with hands wide open, bend at the elbow and bring hands up to your shoulders. For more resistance, hold water weights (foam barbells that create resistance under the water.) Repeat 12x or until fatigued.
- Leg strengtheners: Stand with your back against the wall of the pool. Raise one bent knee to hip level, as if you were going to high step. Once your thigh is parallel with the surface of the water, extend your leg in front of you. Bend knee back and then lower leg. Repeat 12x or until fatigued.
- For added resistance, use an ankle water weight, or simply tie a towel in a knot around your ankle.
These easy guidelines to aqua aerobics will keep you fit (and cool) all summer long!