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Water exercise: easy on joints, great for the body

Over a lifetime, it is common to hit a period when exercising becomes strenuous on the body. An injury, arthritis, weight gain and pregnancy are common examples of life changes that may lead to a well-justified break from a traditional weight-bearing exercises. However, the answer is not to stop moving. Instead, head to the pool!

“Water exercises are an incredible workout,” says Hahns Petty, an exercise physiologist at Piedmont Atlanta Fitness Center. “Really anything you do on land can be done in the water. The beauty is because water makes our bodies buoyant, it takes all the pressure off load-bearing joints. This means less wear and tear. And often times, people can work out longer in the pool because the extra strain brought on by gravity is eliminated.”

Water workouts for every age

Petty says pool exercises are great for any age and stage of life. They are especially beneficial for people who have arthritis, have limited range of motion or are obese. In fact, he says people who suffer from obesity often lose weight faster doing water exercises. Petty adds that 30 minutes of exercising in the pool can burn an average of 300 calories.

Water exercise for beginners

For those starting out, Petty recommends exercising in the pool for 30 minutes to an hour two to three times a week. Pool exercises can also take the place of a regular workout for anyone. This is a great option for those who have access to a pool, especially during the hot summer months. Water has many exercise-related benefits:

  • Provides more resistance over the entire body, which makes for a better full-body workout.

  • Acts like a cushion for joints, muscles, tendon and ligaments, causing less wear and tear.

  • Reduces strain on the body, which leads to more stamina.

  • Can increase rehabilitation progress for those recuperating from an injury, as well as reduce the chances of re-injury.

  • Provides a safe environment with minimal opportunity for injury.

Water exercise for arthritis

For those suffering from arthritis, range of motion limitations or lack of flexibility, Petty recommends the following pool exercises to enhance mobility and increase range of motion.

1. Hip circles
2. Arm circles
3. Leg swings - forward and backward to work the hip flexors

Aerobics in the pool

For an aerobic workout, try the following exercises to get the heart rate up.

1. Running in place or across the pool
2. High knees - jump in place, bringing the knees up to the chest
3. Punches while jogging in place

Strength training in the pool

Strength training can also be done in the pool. Try the following moves:

1. Squats
2. Lunges
3. Bicep curls
4. Pushups against the side of the pool

“Exercising in the water really is so versatile. There are aqua-bells and water paddles that can be used as tools or you can simply swim laps and do exercises that do not require equipment. The key is to keep the body moving,” says Petty.

For more exercise tips, click here.

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