Water fitness classes are not reserved for the pregnant or elderly. Exercising in the water offers an intense cardiovascular challenge with significant strength training benefits. Deep water aerobics is a particular type of water fitness that can help anyone, even elite athletes, stay in shape.
What is Deep Water Aerobics?
Deep water aerobics is a cardiovascular exercise performed in water deep enough so that you do not come in contact with the bottom of the pool. A flotation device, such as a buoyancy belt or pool noodle, is usually used to free your hands and legs to perform large movements against the resistance of the water. Some moves commonly done in deep water aerobics classes include jumping jacks, knee tucks and scissors.
Working out in water reduces the weight of your body by 90 percent, explains the American Council on Exercise, reducing the weight borne by your knees, hips and ankles during exercise. Deep water aerobics can help those with arthritis or joint injuries achieve a cardiovascular workout. Water provides about 12 to 14 times more resistance than air, helping you to build muscular endurance during your routine without using bulky weights. Deep water aerobics also improves flexibility and circulation. Deep water aerobics, including deep water running and group exercise classes, take the pressure off your bones and joints and allow you to participate in an effective cardiovascular workout. The benefits don't stop there, though. According to resources such as the American Council on Exercise and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deep water exercise improves strength, flexibility and even mental health. Grab your flotation belt and dive right in for an effective workout.
Improved Cardiovascular Fitness
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need at least two and a half hours of moderately-intense cardiovascular activity each week. Deep water aerobic exercise effectively helps you meet this recommendation by providing an impact-free alternative to walking or jogging if you suffer joint pain or immobility. If you're most interested in the weight loss benefits of cardiovascular activity, water aerobics burns between 400 to 500 calories an hour, making it an effective activity option.
Deep water exercise also effectively helps pregnant women maintain their cardiovascular fitness levels throughout their entire pregnancies, as noted by the American Academy of Family Physicians. Pregnant women can continue performing this non-weight bearing exercise at high-intensity levels up until they give birth, unlike running or other exercises that require impact.
One benefit unique to water aerobics is the resistance that is added to every movement. Whether stepping your foot forward or backward, moving your arm one way or another, you will meet resistance in the water. Deep water aerobics is particularly effective in providing a full-body strengthening routine because your entire body is submerged, emphasizing the resistance to every move. Make the most out of deep water exercise by adding water dumbbells or gloves to increase resistance further and strengthen and tone your muscles.
The American Council on Exercise cites improved flexibility as one of the key benefits of water exercise, and because flexibility is one of the five components of fitness, increased flexibility will contribute to better overall health. Water provides buoyancy, enabling your joints and muscles to move more freely in different directions, allowing you to lengthen your movements and perform stretches that you might not be able to perform on land. During deep water exercise you are suspended in the water, removing gravity evenly from all your joints and allowing your entire body to benefit from an increased range of motion and heightened flexibility. Make the most of your deep water workout by following up your cardiovascular and strength-training session with at least 10 minutes of stretching.
Some deep water classes use paddles, kickboards or buoys to create additional resistance and make the workout more challenging. Before attending a class, talk to your instructor and inform them of any physical limitations you may have. You may also ask them about their particular expertise and certifications to make sure they have the knowledge to help you get the best out of the routine.
When working out in the water, your heart rate registers lower than it does on land. Use perceived exertion, rather than heart rate zones, to evaluate your intensity. Be sure to hydrate during your routine. You are not sweating so fluid loss is less evident, but dehydration can occur.
- ACE: Make a Splash With Water Fitness
- CDC: Health Benefits of Water-Based Exercise
- AEA: How Many Calories?
- CDC: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- AAFP: Exercise During Pregnancy
- American Council on Exercise: Making a Splash with Water Fitness
- United States Water Fitness Association: Information Regarding Water Exercise