The Amazing Benefits of Aquatic Fitness

Thursday, Aug 18, 2022 | Activity, Lifestyle

Coach Mindy here!

Summertime is my favorite season for fitness. I love using my home pool for my daily exercise and movement. If you have a pool that comes to at least your waist, you too have the most awesome piece of at home exercise equipment ever invented and I’m about to show you how to use all 3 components of exercise: Cardio, Strength Training, and Flexibility doing Aquatic Fitness at Home.

First, check out how beneficial Aquatic Fitness is in a previous blog here

First let’s talk about the equipment you can use in the pool. There are so many options including equipment that is specifically designed for pool workouts. These are easily found on Amazon and are affordable.

  • Dumbbells– these are specifically designed to be used underwater. Instead of using weight and gravity, like traditional hand weights, these are giving you resistance from the buoyancy.
  • Gloves– neoprene, webbed gloves increase water resistance, with the webbed fingers spreading wide to create more drag. The added resistance provides more work for the upper body, giving the shoulders, arms, chest and back an intense workout and toning muscles well beyond normal swimming and movement.
  • Buoyancy Belts– an aquatic fitness accessory that you can wear while you’re in deep water. Wrapped around your waist, it’s a belt that allows you to float in deeper water so you can tread water easily and safely.

Now let’s look at some equipment you can use in the pool that isn’t specifically designed for aquatic exercise but works great for your workout.

  • Pool Noodles– these are one of my favorite types of pool exercise equipment. They come in varying densities so you’re able to customize the resistance. The more dense, the more resistance they provide. You can use them for virtually ALL types of Aquatic Fitness whether you are working on strength, cardio, flexibility, balance, Aquatic Barre, or Aquatic Yoga.
  • Balls– this is another fave. Balls are super buoyant. No major rules: Beach balls, kick balls, fitness balls, small balls, medium balls and Dollar Store balls will work depending upon how you’re using them.
  • Kick-boards– Not only do kick-boards helps in strengthening your legs and improving your kicks which contributes to swimming faster, they can be used to work glutes, quads and hamstrings and helps to target specific areas of the body.
  • DIY Dumbbells– using PVC pipe and pool noodles, its easy to make your own, customizable hand weights for the pool. Look on Google or Pinterest for tutorials and inspiration.

Lastly, let’s think outside of the box. You can use most land equipment in the pool. Just be sure to rinse and dry this equipment thoroughly when finished to prolong the life of your equipment.
Traditional Hand Weights– you can use these while jogging or doing aerobics in the pool as you would on land. Just don’t use them UNDER the water.
Tube Bands– you can tie the tubular bands to your pool ladder for resistance, and you can also use these under water as you would on land.
Loop Bands– much like on land, these bands can be used in the water. Try jogging around the pool with one around your thighs!

There are so many ways to workout in the water. Let’s explore how to get in our cardio.

Regardless if you have a pool big enough for laps or not, you can use swimming to boost your heart rate and burn some calories. Before I show you how to modify your swimming to fit the size of your pool, let’s look at how swimming helps you lose weight.
– Swimming is great for shaping the body, even if its the only exercise you can do. Swimming is one of the best forms of exercising and will help you shed some pounds. It can also tighten up your whole body, and improve your overall fitness level, no matter where you start.
– increases heart rate without putting stress on the body
– improves strength
– tones muscles
– enhances fitness
– Suitable for all ages and fitness levels.

To modify your laps to fit in a smaller pool you can:
– Try doing laps either across the length of your pool or around the circumference. If it’s only a short distance, just keep going back and forth.
– Use a swim belt tether (Found on Amazon) and attach it to the side of the pool.
– Do pool kicks using a kick-board, noodle, or even hanging on to the side or a ladder.
– Sitting on a noodle, using arms only, do breast and butterfly strokes across the length or around the circumference of your pool.

Water walking and jogging are low impact, cardio exercises. The extra resistance of walking in water allows you to challenge and strengthen your muscles in ways you may not be able to with a land-based routine. It also helps you burn more calories, which can aid in weight loss. You can safely do water walking/jogging in any depth as long as it’s above your waist. Here are some ways to water walk or jog.
– Always start out slow to warm up. Walk on toes, then heels. Walk backwards, walk with legs wide, high knees, hamstring curls.
– Try walking/jogging around the circumference of your pool and change directions to increase resistance.
– Walk/jog across your pool in a zigzag motion.

This is my ultimate favorite. There are SO many ways you can move in the water that can not be done on land. Not only are you free from the fear of falling, but you’re able to increase your range of motion and flexibility which is also anti-aging.
– Jumping jacks -make sure arms stay IN or OUT of water, do not bring your arms in AND out of water. This increases torque on your joints.
– Jump Squats- squat, then jump as high as you can. Repeat.
– Cross country ski-mimicking a cross-country skiing motion by placing one leg forward and one leg back, then jumping to switch legs, swinging your arms in the opposite direction from your legs. Another option is jumping side-to-side, with knees bent, simulating downhill skiing turns.
– Knee Jumps- imagine a line on the bottom of the pool. Jump over that “line” forward and backwards while bringing your knees up as high to your chest as you can. Alternatively, jump sideways over “line”.
– Slam Dunks- power jumps to make an “basket”. Alternatively Jog forward 3x, Power jump to make a “basket” and then jog back 3x and power jump to make another “basket”.
– Dance- anything goes. You can do freestyle, ballet, hip-hop, or even all the TikTok dances. The Skies The Limit, just let yourself go, have fun, and dance like no one is watching.

This is just a small fraction of the ways you can get your cardio in the pool. Mix them up and make up your own combos.

Now let’s look at Strength Training! It is so easy doing your strength training routine in the water because just being IN the water increases your resistance. This is because of the density of the water, which is 12x more resistant than air. Working out in the water for 30 minutes gives you approximately the same benefits of a two-hour, land-based workout. Water accommodates resistance — the harder you push or pull through it, the more resistance you experience.

The best part about strength training in the water is that you can do virtually any exercise in the water as you can on land, with some minor modifications.

𝗜𝗻𝗰𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗥𝗲𝘀𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗪𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗪𝗶𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗘𝗾𝘂𝗶𝗽𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁
Tight fists or straight hands create an easier resistance. Open hand wide and make a claw like you are pretending to be a monster, to increase resistance. Even MORE resistance use a noodle, webbed gloves, and/or water weights. (Can be found on amazon). As for legs, any time you make your body wider, you will increase the resistance. Using the current in the pool by changing directions of resistance as well. You can use your arms above the water too. You can use weighted weights for above water and water weights for under water. Don’t rule out resistance bands. You can use them but be sure to rinse them off after use. Swim using various stokes with ARMS only. Either drag your legs or sit on a pool noodle. Then try LEGS only. Kick, bend your knees, scissor cross your legs, frog kick. My favorite… kids play balls. Those $3 colorful balls you can get anywhere. They are super buoyant and you use lots of muscles trying to push and hold them under water. Experiment with other types!

Often overlooked, flexibility is JUST as important as cardio and strengthening and has many positive effects on the body. Flexibility is anti-aging, it improves mobility, posture, muscle coordination, reduces the risk of injuries and muscle soreness. New research even suggests the importance of flexibility and heart health. It also leads to a better overall “shape” and coupled with cardio and building muscle, you can totally transform your body.

Flexibility should be included in EVERY workout. You can even do a whole session on flexibility but making sure you have a nice mixture of Cardio, Strength, and Flexibility through out your week will ensure the most positive changes.

𝗙𝗹𝗲𝘅𝗶𝗯𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗣𝗼𝗼𝗹
Good News! Just moving in the water can help your overall flexibility. We can integrate our coordination and agility and balance. This is what makes it such a powerful anti-aging tool. The water holds us up so we can work on balance and move through a full range of motion as it protects and soothes the joints and muscles.

𝗧𝘆𝗽𝗲𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗙𝗹𝗲𝘅𝗶𝗯𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆
– Dynamic flexibility is the ability to move muscles and joints through their full range of motion during active movement. Such flexibility helps your body reach its full movement potential during daily activities, sports, and exercise. This improves performance and reduces the risk of injury.
– Static flexibility refers to an individual’s absolute range of motion that can be achieved without movement. Static stretching has a relaxation, elongation effect on muscle which increases range of motion (ROM) , decreases musculotendinous stiffness and also reduce the risk of acute muscle strain injuries. It is a slow controlled movement with emphasis on postural awareness and body alignment.

𝗗𝗼𝗻’𝘁 𝗙𝗼𝗿𝗴𝗲𝘁 𝗔𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗕𝗮𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲
Water is 500 times to 800 times more supportive than air. But it also has a natural resistance that can be up to 15 times greater than air. This makes it the perfect modality to work on balance. The good news is, while there are specific balancing exercises, just moving in the water begins building those core muscles which contribute to better balance.

There you have it. The possibilities are endless, whether you incorporate yoga, barre, aerobic dance, zumba, pilates; It is easy to get a complete, full body workout in the pool. Not only will it enhance your weight loss, working out in the water can be anti aging as well. Happy treading!