Water Aerobics May Be Just What You Need to Break Out of a Fitness Rut
“Every exercise in the water has the potential to be a core exercise,” says Denomme.
3. Water classes enhance coordination.
The very first water exercise class I attended was a 60-minute blur of combination movements performed in the deep end of the pool: Think riding an imaginary rocking horse across the pool and mimicking a cross-country skiing motion.
At first, I had zero idea what I was doing as we cycled through bodyweight exercises that involved a surprising amount of total-body coordination, such as tapping various parts of our feet with the opposite hand in an intricate pattern, or doing an inchworm-like motion to move across the pool.
Because there are lots of new and different types of exercises in a water exercise class compared to an on-dry-land workout, the coordination challenge can be real. Stick with it though, and you may notice your baseline coordination abilities improve. I’m no coordination queen myself, but have noticed that some of the more complicated water moves have become easier over time.
4. Water exercise provides low-impact cardio.
For many people, exercising in the water simply feels good. That’s because water exercise is a low-impact activity that reduces the pressure on bones, joints, and muscles, according to the Mayo Clinic. This means it can be a great workout option for folks with pain, injuries, or limitations that prohibit their participation in other forms of cardio exercise, such as jogging or running. (That said, if you have a history of injury or pain, check with your doctor first before you start water exercise to ensure they recommend it for you.)
At the same time, water exercise can absolutely get your heart pumping, especially if you attend a cardio-focused class and perform the movements at a pace or intensity that is challenging for you. For instance, the water class I teach follows a HIIT format where we alternate between bursts of high-effort work—like 45 seconds of squat jumps or jumping jacks—followed by brief periods of rest. These types of high-effort intervals leave class goers (and myself) pretty breathless.
5. Water classes boost mobility and flexibility.
When your body is immersed in water, the buoyancy and pressure of the water allows your joints to move more freely, says Denomme. This can help you achieve greater stretch as you move your body in various positions.
As ACE puts it, “water is a welcome environment for performing stretches that might otherwise be difficult on land. Because the effects of gravity are lessened, you can move your joints through a wider range of motion and achieve long-term flexibility.” As someone with chronically tight hips and hamstrings, this is definitely a welcome benefit of water classes.
6. Water classes remove the comparison factor.
Perhaps my favorite benefit of water exercise? I find it less intimidating than other forms of fitness, like indoor cycling classes, weight lifting, or yoga. That’s because the focus is really on you, not on anyone else. When everyone’s in the water, it’s really difficult to see what your classmates are doing and thus you can’t easily compare yourself to other people. So instead of fretting over the fact that you aren’t nailing the same exact pose as the people in front of you, you can turn your focus on what you are doing, which will ultimately help you get the most out of your workout!
7. It’s just plain fun.
I’ve noticed there’s just something about being in water that makes you feel like you’re on summer vacation. Maybe it’s the fact that the buoyancy effect of water can help you “move like you’re a child again,” says Denomme. “You can skip in the water, you can jump in the water,” she explains. These types of movements may feel silly, or simply not so great to do on land (and depending on your current health status, they may not be safe), so having the option to move in those ways in the water can feel pretty damn awesome.
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