Aqua aerobics, also referred to as water aerobics or aquafitness, is one of the most effective and safe ways to get yourself into shape. Basically, it is composed of exercises done in shallow water such as a swimming pool, whether with or without rhythmic music, pretty much like an aerobics class. Usually, an instructor stands on the deck of the pool, demonstrating various arm, leg and core exercises, which a class of exercisers, standing in chest deep water, follows.
Each workout session runs for about 45-60 minutes. It begins with a warm-up session, which incorporates slow cardio and stretching exercises to get the muscles ready for the increased activity to follow, and ends with a cool-down, where the limbs and other parts of the body are stretched and relaxed. According to estimations, about 500-700 calories are burned in a whole session. It basically depends upon the intensity to which the moves are performed, that’s how great these type of workouts are, even a few days ago I tried explaining one of my students, that when inside water it’s the student who sets up is own pace, whether wanting to work cardio endurance ( movements performed at a fast speed ) or muscular resistance ( in this case, choosing a slower and much more controlled movement execution ).
Compare the following estimation of calorie consumption for a 30-minutes workout:
Land walking : 135 calories
Deep water walking : 264 calories
Jogging on land : 240 calories
Deep water jogging : 340 calories
Water aerobics workouts usually combine a variety of techniques from a regular aerobics class, including walking or running backward and forward, jumping jacks, mimicking cross-country skiing, kickboxing, dance, along with different types of arm and hand movements. This type of workout also incorporates different types of equipment, used mostly to increase the amount of resistance to which the movements are performed underwater. Such equipments include: floating noodles, ankle/wrist weights, flotation belts, balls, flotation devices, steps, floating weights, etc. Though, as I usually tell my beginner students that before using any equipment, we should work mostly the movement coordination and posture improvement, because it is very easy to injure yourself when you’re working with equipment, since it doubles the resistance to which you would normally execute movements underwater.
Like other forms of aerobic workouts, water aerobics have benefits like helping you in losing weight, lowering blood sugar levels, reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, and so on. However, it has additional benefits over other forms of aerobic exercises. Since the buoyancy of water supports 90 percent of the body, practically anyone can do aquatic exercises, regardless of factors like fitness levels, obesity, age, and health conditions. Just as an example, one of the classes I have every saturday morning is composed of ladies of ages between 16 years old to 55 years old. All of them do exactly the same type of exercise, just different pace of movement execution.
People who are overweight also find water aerobics a great way to exercise. One of the reasons overweight people get quickly discouraged from continuing an exercise program is the great stress their joints and ligaments undergo in conventional aerobics, which can result in injury and pain. However, because the body gets buoyant in water, and less stress is put on joints and ligaments, it not only reduces the chances of injury, but overweight people can actually enjoy their workout. This can be a great motivating factor for them to stick to their exercise routine, and thereby shed their excess weight.
Water aerobics is also excellent for people recovering from an injury or surgery, or with health conditions like heart problems, arthritis, backache, osteoporosis, and so on. This is because the cushioning effect of water makes the exercises gentler on the body, while providing an effective workout. As a matter of fact, many sports personalities with injuries use water exercises to rehab. For instance, one can safely strengthen muscles by jogging in water, since it cuts out the stress of heavy impact when it is done on land, which can actually exacerbate the injury. Besides, apart from getting an overall workout, exercises concentrated on the injured part can also be safely done, thus helping to quicken recovery.
Another group of people for whom aqua aerobics is ideal is senior citizens. Many people in this age group have age-related conditions like brittle bones. Besides, if they have not been exercising, conventional aerobics done on land can be pretty tough on their aging bodies, increasing their chances of either injuring themselves or worsening a health condition like heart disease. Water’s buffering effect protects them from such risks. Besides, the group activity that aqua aerobics provides is also an additional benefit for this age group, for it gives them an avenue for overcoming loneliness by meeting new people and forming friendships.
Regardless of your fitness level, age and needs there is some kind of water exercise that is right for you. In conclusion water aerobics is a first class form of exercise which can benefit you in terms of fitness and health just as much as normal land based exercise and has the added benefit that is less likely to cause you injury or stress to your body. So get out there and find yourself a pool! And don’t forget the instructor too…