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Impact-related injuries from traditional land-based workout routines have caused many Baby Boomers to stop exercising altogether. But what if you could get a really great workout while keeping your joints optimally protected and experience no soreness afterwards? You should consider adding aqua fitness to your exercise regime.
Ruth Sova, author and founder of the Aquatic Exercise Association states in her book Aquatic Exercise, “As Baby Boomers move through middle age and become senior citizens, they are demanding a fitness program that will enable them to continue exercising for the rest of their lives.”
Aqua fitness exercise provides significant benefits for older adults including increased metabolism and muscle mass, improved cardiovascular health, lower body fat, and even an increase in reaction time. There are psychological and social benefits as well. People feel better about themselves and tend to keep their independence because they’re physically fit. The water’s buoyancy virtually eliminates the possibility of bone, muscle or joint injury. It’s also ideal for those suffering from arthritis.
When it comes to aqua fitness, there are loads of reasons for older adults to “just do it.”
Aqua aerobics has been around for years. Typical classes take place in deep and/or shallow water, and include jogging, kicking, jumping, squats and dance movements. More recently, pools and gyms have expanded aqua fitness to include forms such as aqua step aerobics and water boxing. You can find classes at most local health clubs or YMCAs.
Why it’s cool: Lower impact than land-based aerobics, these classes still offer the fat-burning and endurance benefits found in all aerobic exercise. This form of aqua fitness is great for all fitness levels and you’ll burn about 300 calories for every 30 minutes of exercise.
Take Pilates, put it under water, and you’ve got a brand new aqua fitness form. Pool-ates (like its land-based sibling) aims to make the body longer, leaner and more flexible. It combines gentle Pilates movements such as the “leg pull,” “alternate arms” and “rowing,” with water’s natural buoyancy and resistance. You can join a class or workout on your own.
Why it’s cool: You get all the typical Pilates benefits: strengthened core, sharper coordination, improved balance and stress relief, but it’s easier on your joints. It’s ideal for those who are overweight, suffer from osteoporosis, or have chronic injuries.
This hot new trend takes a land-based spinning class and dunks it. It was invented by an Italian physical therapist who used it to treat athletes’ knee injuries. Aqua cycling has just begun making waves in the U.S. aqua fitness programs.
Why it’s cool: You get a full cardio benefit, still “feel the burn” during your workout, but there’s no soreness the next day. Your arms come into play too, creating a full-body workout.
Swim laps! Swimming workouts burn between 500 to 700 calories an hour. And according to research at Indiana University, regularly swimming around two to three miles (A swimmer’s mile is 1,650 yards), three to five times a week, can halt the aging process not only for years but for decades. If you’re a beginner, USMS swimmer Ruth Kazez created a doable program to go from zero to a mile in six weeks.
Why it’s cool: Swimming offers a full-body workout: trimming inches, improving muscle tone and boosting metabolism. Unlike other exercise forms, you can do it daily without risking injury.
Not ready to join a class? Create a regular aqua fitness routine for yourself right in your Jacuzzi, personal or public pool. How do you create your own aqua fitness routine?
- Warm-up: Tread water for a few minutes. (This may seem simplistic, but you’re actually working all your major muscle groups.)
- Jogging: Perform this in deep water while wearing a flotation belt or life jacket. Simulate your normal running style and remember water is more resistant than air, so your pace and aerobic heart rate will decrease accordingly.
- Weightlifting: Get yourself a pair of underwater dumbbells and water shoes or Hydro-Boots. Stand hip or chest deep in water, and perform the same arm and leg exercises you would do on land.
There are also plenty of aqua fitness DVD’s available to inspire you.
Why it’s cool: You get all the benefits of a great aerobic or weight workout while preventing injuries, or recovering from one. And the best part is, you’ll feel no soreness afterwards!
Please consult your doctor before beginning any type of training program.
Have you ever tried a form of aqua fitness? Share your thoughts!