Now that the heat is on this summer, adding pool workouts to your regimen can be a great way to keep cool while enjoying something different. Not only does the water feel good, but it’s easier on the joints due to buoyancy. A body immersed to the waist bears only about 50 percent of its weight; immersed to the chest, about 25-35 percent of its weight; and to the neck, approximately 10 percent. Plus, water cools the body approximately four times (or more) quickly than air.
But that doesn’t mean that all water exercise is easy. The water’s resistance provides greater challenge via drag, which is the force you feel that opposes your movements, whether you are swimming or participating in an aqua fitness class. And while gravity is the primary force on your body on land, in the pool, the water’s viscosity provides horizontal resistance as well for every movement. Just notice the difference between walking on a track versus walking in the pool.
Typically, your heart rate will be 10-20 percent lower in an aqua environment than on land, so you may not feel that you’re working as hard, but you will be if you give it your all!
Today, many options exist when it comes to pool workouts, so if you can access an indoor or outdoor pool, try some of these to vary your routine and experience new challenges.
- Swimming – Swimming laps is one of the best total-body workouts, providing cardiovascular conditioning and muscular endurance training. Use a variety of strokes for greater benefit, and check out recommended workouts online or ask fellow swimmers. Your health club or local recreation center also may offer U.S. Masters Swimming, where you can train with a group and potentially compete with other local groups, which is ideal if you want to improve performance.
- Aquatic exercise classes – These are no longer just a bunch of old ladies socializing, but have evolved to include a variety of formats, such as interval training, strength work, barre, step, Zumba and more. Some classes now combine aquatic exercises with swimming laps. Check the schedule at your local pool to find a class that will help you meet your goals.
- Water walking – On your own or in a class format, walking in the pool delivers total-body resistance for overall toning. Add variety by walking forward and backward, doing side steps, adding lunges and squats, kicking forward and more. Or try a treadmill that can be used in the water for walking and jogging.
- Deep water running – Runners love this option to limit jarring impact. Wearing an aqua belt in the deep end of the pool, you can use a running motion to build endurance and strength without the pounding on the joints. Or use an underwater treadmill. This is a lot harder than it looks but definitely worth it.
- Aqua cycling – This is basically Spinning underwater, using special bikes. Intensity is boosted big-time by the water’s resistance, but you’re also kept cool in the pool, so you may not feel that you’re working as hard.
- Yoga, Pilates and board exercise – New to pool workouts are yoga, Pilates or calisthenics performed on a firm, floating board or mat that challenges (and humbles!) you big-time to keep your balance while strengthening your core.
- Equipment options – Typically used in classes or on your own, aqua accessories can increase resistance and provide variety. These include:
- Webbed gloves
- Foam or plastic dumbbells, barbells or paddles
- Foam noodles
- Rubber resistance bands or tubing
- Ankle weights
Enjoy your pool workout! Stay Fueled.