Wa­ter Work­outs

Swim­ming isn’t the only pool ex­er­cise that tones your whole body

RSWLiving - - To Your Health - BY KLAUDIA BALOGH Klaudia Balogh is the health and fit­ness writer for TOTI Me­dia.

Be­fore you be­gin drown­ing in your work­out goals and see­ing those New Year’s res­o­lu­tions sink lower on your pri­or­ity list, dive into a swim­ming pool and start en­joy­ing the ben­e­fits of aqua fit­ness, also known as wa­ter aer­o­bics. Think of com­bin­ing ex­er­cise and wa­ter, and the first thing that comes to mind is swim­ming, but there’s much more to aqua fit­ness than the but­ter­fly and breast­stroke.

First, to clear up a few mis­con­cep­tions: wa­ter aer­o­bics isn’t a less ef­fi­cient way of train­ing, it’s not only for se­niors, and you don’t have to know how to swim to prac­tice it. Ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion (CDC), stud­ies have shown both phys­i­cal and men­tal health ben­e­fits—from in­creas­ing flex­i­bil­ity and hav­ing low joint im­pact, to re­liev­ing stress and de­pres­sion. Fur­ther, age doesn’t mat­ter; ev­ery­one can ben­e­fit from aqua fit­ness.

Here’s how to get in shape with a splash, whether in your back­yard pool or in aqua fit­ness classes in South­west Florida.

IN­CREASED MO­BIL­ITY AND STRENGTH

Wa­ter den­sity is 800 times more than air den­sity, so each move­ment per­formed in wa­ter re­quires more en­ergy than it does on land. More en­ergy means the body is re­quired to make a larger ef­fort to com­plete a task, in­creas­ing mo­bil­ity, strength and blood flow to the mus­cles. This is es­pe­cially im­por­tant with ag­ing when a grad­ual de­crease in mus­cle mass, strength and power oc­curs. A study pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Sports

Science and Medicine found that wa­ter ex­er­cise could help older women, who may have chronic or age-re­lated con­di­tions, to stay ac­tive and main­tain mo­bil­ity.

LOW IM­PACT ON JOINTS

In wa­ter, grav­ity de­creases and the body’s weight drops by 90 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to re­search. That buoy­ant ef­fect re­lieves pres­sure on the joints and mus­cles, and wa­ter pro­vides a cush­ion dur­ing ex­er­cise. Hence, it’s one of the best ther­a­pies for those with joint prob­lems, arthri­tis, obe­sity or os­teo­poro­sis (a bone dis­ease marked by frag­ile bones and de­creased bone den­sity and strength).

STRESS RE­LIEF

The “run­ner’s high,” that eu­phoric feel­ing run­ners say they ex­pe­ri­ence when train­ing, is not a myth. In fact, all types of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity can cre­ate that happy, em­pow­ered re­sponse. Dur­ing ex­er­cise, the body re­leases en­dor­phins, the feel-good chem­i­cals that act as nat­u­ral painkillers in the brain, leav­ing you pos­i­tive and en­er­gized. In ad­di­tion, the stress hor­mone cor­ti­sol de­creases,

lead­ing to deeper and bet­ter-qual­ity sleep. A re­cent study looked at how preg­nant women re­sponded to wa­ter ex­er­cise and found that their sleep pat­terns im­proved, “both sub­jec­tively and in terms of la­tency, du­ra­tion and ef­fi­ciency.”

DE­CREASED BLOOD PRES­SURE

One in three Amer­i­can adults have hyper­ten­sion (high blood pres­sure), which may cause heart dis­ease and stroke, ac­cord­ing to the CDC. Only half of them have the con­di­tion un­der con­trol. The nor­mal range rec­om­mended by the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion is be­low 120/80.

Wa­ter ex­er­cise is one of the best ways to keep blood pres­sure at an op­ti­mal range. Sci­en­tists have found that a 10week course of wa­ter aer­o­bics ef­fec­tively re­duced blood pres­sure in pa­tients with hyper­ten­sion. The con­stant and even wa­ter pres­sure al­lows for the blood to cir­cu­late more ef­fec­tively through­out the body, al­low­ing for a stead­ier heart rate and de­creased blood pres­sure.

EF­FI­CIENT CALO­RIE BURNER

Al­though peo­ple burn calo­ries by sim­ply go­ing about their daily lives, that un­for­tu­nately isn’t enough to im­prove the main com­po­nents of phys­i­cal fit­ness: car­dio­vas­cu­lar health and en­durance, strength and flex­i­bil­ity, and healthy body com­po­si­tion (the body’s fat and lean mus­cle ra­tio). To do so, you need ex­er­cise that in­creases your heart rate and blood flow through­out your body. While wa­ter aer­o­bics min­i­mizes im­pact on joints and mus­cles, the wa­ter’s den­sity al­lows for re­sis­tance, pro­vid­ing an ef­fi­cient full-body work­out.

PER­FECT IN HOT WEATHER

If there’s one pos­si­ble threat of ex­er­cis­ing out­doors in the hot cli­mate of South­west Florida, it’s over­heat­ing. Ex­er­cis­ing in wa­ter, how­ever, means your body tem­per­a­ture won’t rise sig­nif­i­cantly. You can stay cool while ac­ti­vat­ing your mus­cles and ton­ing your body head to toe.

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