Get a Full-Body Workout With These Water Aerobics Exercises

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Doing water aerobics is not a common way to work out, but you might want to start penciling it in to your workout schedule. It's a fun way to mix up your normal exercise routine and surprise your muscles with something new. If you normally prefer to do your cardio or weightlifting on land, adding water exercise every once in a while can work wonders on your body. And if you have a health condition that affects your joints — or you’re looking to start a brand new workout regimen altogether — water-based activities can help provide the support your body needs to stay comfortable and ease into things.

If you have a pool available, whether it's in your backyard or at the gym, you’ll enjoy the process of starting to use it for more than a casual splash. These enjoyable water aerobics exercises can help engage every part of your body and keep your fitness routine more exciting.

What Are the Benefits of Water Aerobics?

Although exercise in general is helpful for joint pain and stiffness, working out on land can sometimes feel like it’s hard on your joints. Water aerobics exercises can alleviate some of that pain; they’re low impact but have the potential to remain high intensity thanks to the water's buoyancy. That means you get to give your joints a break while still working your muscles out.

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Exercising in a pool is a great way to build on your strength, flexibility and endurance while also giving your body the cardiovascular workout it needs. The reason for this is all the natural resistance the water provides. Moving your body around in water is harder than moving it through the air. As a result, aquatic exercises end up giving you a great chance to work your muscles. At the same time, the water provides support, which is ideal if you have pain, weakness or issues with balance.

Water also promotes the development of a stable and strong core by allowing you to do core exercises in an upright position. Not only does this strengthen your core muscles, but it also promotes good posture and can ease back pain.

People who have osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis may find water aerobics particularly helpful. Working out in water is also a gentle form of exercise for pregnant people and those who have fibromyalgia, osteoporosis or joint pain.

Recommended Equipment for Water Workouts

You can do most of the recommended water exercises listed here without any extra equipment. Still, you might find some accessories beneficial to your aquatic training. These include:

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  • Goggles to keep the water out of your eyes and prevent irritation from chlorine
  • Water shoes for extra grip and stability
  • Wrist and ankle weights to provide even more resistance to your water movements
  • Foam dumbbells to engage different muscle groups
  • Kickboard in case you want to do certain workouts away from the side of the pool
  • Pool noodle for support during "water planks" and other exercises
  • Buoyancy belt for added safety and security if you aren’t a strong swimmer

Safety Tips for Water-Workout Success

While it might be tempting to dive right in with your pool workouts, it’s vital to be safe, particularly if you’re not used to spending much time in the water. Be aware of your current swimming and fitness abilities, be sure not to push yourself too much and do follow these tips and guidelines:

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  • While you may not realize it because you're in the water and already feeling refreshed, you still need to stay hydrated during and after water workouts. Drink plenty of water both during and after your aerobics session.
  • Working out in a heated pool is safe as long as it’s not above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Use a buoyancy belt if you’re not a strong swimmer.
  • Immediately stop your water exercises if you feel lightheaded, dizzy, faint, nauseous or weak or if you experience pain.
  • If you’re exercising in an outdoor pool, wear appropriate sun protection. This includes high-SPF sunscreen and a suit, such as a rashguard top, that covers your back, shoulders and arms.
  • Now that you know the benefits, equipment, and safety tips for water aerobics, here are five full-body exercise moves to do to get your heart pumping in the pool.

Water Walking

One great way to get into the rhythm of water aerobics and test out the resistance of water versus air is by trying out some water walking. It's as simple as it sounds and works out your arms, core and lower body.

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Once you’re in waist-deep water, begin walking from one side of the pool to the other — staying in the same depth, not going into the deep end. Make sure you're putting pressure first on your heel and then your toes; don't walk on your tiptoes. If you find that you’re having trouble using your whole foot, move to shallower water and try again.

Keep good posture with your spine long. Your arms should be at your sides in the water, moving normally as you walk. Walk in the water across the pool and back for 10 minutes for a great full-body workout. If you want to increase the intensity of this workout, use wrist and/or ankle weights.

Water Jacks

Jumping jacks are a great workout on land. In the water, they have even more resistance, working out your upper and lower body at the same time.

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Begin by standing in chest-deep water with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Now do a jumping jack the same way you would on land. This means your legs should move outward at the same time that your arms move over your head before returning to the starting position. For a great muscular and cardio workout, do three sets of 10 repetitions. To make it even more intense, add resistance by using wrist and/or ankle weights.

Squat Jumps

Squat jumps in the water work out your legs and your core. They’re very similar to a land squat jump, only the buoyancy of the water allows you to propel yourself up for a higher, more explosive jump.

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Begin squatting in waist-deep water with your arms extended straight out in front of you. Your knees shouldn’t extend out past your toes. Next, forcefully jump from the pool floor as you press your arms straight back behind you. As you land, move directly back into the starting squatting position. Do 15 of these, take a break and then do 15 more. For extra intensity, do squat jumps while holding foam dumbbells.

Pool Crunches

Water crunches are a great core and leg workout. The core element is clear — you use your abdominal muscles to lift your upper body — but the leg element comes from the effort it takes to pull yourself up partly using the muscles in your legs that are supporting you on the side of the pool.

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Start by hooking your shins and feet over the side of the pool. Your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle as you lie face up on the water's surface. Now, do crunches as you normally would on land. The buoyancy of the water provides extra support for your back. Do 20 crunches, take a break and then do 20 more.

Water Planks

Planks on land put a lot of pressure on your upper body. In water, they relieve some of that strain on your upper-body muscles and focus more on giving your core muscles a great workout. This exercise requires a pool noodle.

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Begin by standing on the pool floor, about chest-deep in the water. Next, hold the noodle horizontally with both hands and press it down into the water. As you do this, lean forward until your body reaches an even incline with your core engaged. Your head should remain above the water. Hold yourself steady in this position for one minute. Take a break, and then do another minute.

Resource Links:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/in-depth/arthritis/art-20047971

https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/aquatic-exercise-healthy-easy-on-the-body

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/back-pain/symptoms-causes/syc-20369906

https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/swimmers/health_benefits_water_exercise.html

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