Exercise is a polarising subject. Sure, we all know that it’s good to be active, and many people love the way exercise makes them feel. Others however dread putting on the activewear and heading to the gym. No matter which group you find yourself in, taking your workout to the water might prove to be just the shakeup that your exercise regime needs.
The perks of water exercise are many and varied. It offers all the cardiovascular health and aerobic fitness benefits of traditional exercise, but without the harsh and potentially damaging impacts. Water exercise is the ideal combination of gentle yet intense, which is why it is enjoyed by everyone from the elderly and disabled to elite athletes.
Let’s take the opportunity to drill down a little further on the benefits of water exercise, and how it should be approached in order to maximise the perks it offers.
Why is water exercise good for you?
First things first: what makes water-based exercise such a great way to get fit and healthy? At the risk of stating the obvious, exercise, even in its gentlest form, is really good for you. Regular, light activity:
- Improves aerobic capacity and muscle strength: No matter the intensity with which you approach exercise, the activity does good things to your body. In fact, gentle exercise can often be the better choice – in this 2017 study, low impact exercise was found to be more effective than high impact exercise for increasing aerobic fitness and strength in overweight women.
- Lowers blood pressure and stress: Light exercise is proven to be good for mental health, by reducing your body’s production of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline and increasing levels of endorphins that reduce pain and elevate mood. Gentle exercise has also been shown to lower blood pressure.
- Reduces musculoskeletal injuries: Exercising strengthens and elasticises your muscles, toughens your bones and promotes movement in joints. It ultimately makes your body stronger and more resilient, which in turn reduces your risk of suffering a musculoskeletal injury.
But there’s a problem: in attempting to realise these benefits, some people can do more harm than good. Regular runs on hard ground can result in tender joints and even bone issues like shin splints. The heavy weights used in strength training can prove a dangerous foe, particularly if your form isn’t spot on. And some forms of exercise, like cycling and circuit-training, simply can’t be enjoyed by certain parts of the population.
Water exercise is the great equaliser. With buoyancy counteracting the effects of gravity, exercise is made safer, as is able to be enjoyed by almost everyone: the elderly, disabled, sufferers of chronic pain, pregnant women, asthmatic children and more. It’s every bit as helpful to elite athletes, who can enjoy an ultra-intense workout without the associated risk of injury.
Does aqua aerobics work?
Perhaps the second-most popular form of water exercise, behind swimming, is aqua aerobics. A staple of community pools up and down New Zealand, it is enjoyed by children, the elderly and everyone in between.
Aqua aerobics, like any form of physical activity, can help to increase your aerobic capacity and cardiovascular health. But it’s important to recognise that it isn’t the fastest way to fitness – this study found that an average person will burn around 500 calories per hour during water aerobics, far less than intense swimming (892 c/hr) and running (1074 c/hr).
But for most people who enjoy aqua aerobics, the low intensity of the workout is part of the charm. This is more than enough activity to begin enjoying the benefits listed above, like maintaining strength and fitness and promoting mental and physical health.
Can I lose weight by doing water exercise?
When done correctly and regularly, water exercise can be a great way to lose weight, as outlined in this study, which found that swimming was better for the waistline than walking.
Afraid that you’ll get bored of swimming? Weight loss is made all the easier when you can choose from a wealth of activity options. And by offering a complete suite of fitness accessories, an Endless Pools swim spa offers just that.
- Swimming: The headline feature of an Endless Pools swim spa is the swim-in-place experience. A powerful pump creates a strong (and adjustable) current down the centre of the spa, offering a truly endless swim. Accessories like the swim tether, underwater mirror and pace display can also be added to enhance your exercise regime.
- Underwater treadmill: Do you love running, but hate the constant thudding impacts? By adding an underwater treadmill to your Endless Pools swim spa you can bring the joy of jogging to your backyard, but in a far more comfortable form, as buoyancy counteracts the effects of gravity.
- Water Rower: Rowing, like swimming, is one of those rare, full-body workouts. And thanks to Endless Pools’ water rower accessory, you no longer need a boat or rowing machine to enjoy it! Simply fix our rowing kit to the sides of your swim spa, and exercise against the resistance of the current.
- Aquabike: Cycling is a fun and effective workout that is out of reach of many, particularly those with limited mobility. The Aquabike sees you pedal against the current and in the process brings a daily spin class to your swim spa.
- Resistance bands: Is there a specific muscle group that you feel needs attention? By adding resistance bands to your swim spa experience, you can target any and every part of your body through an endless array of customisable exercises.
While exercise is critical for weight loss, it should be noted that diet plays just as large a part. When you boil it down, weight loss is about ensuring that you expend more energy than you put into your body, so it’s wise to speak to a healthcare professional to develop an eating plan that works well with your intended level of activity.
How often should I do water exercise?
Armed with an Endless Pools swim spa, the temptation to exercise will (hopefully) be great. But how often should you work out?
You might assume the more exercise the better... but that’s not necessarily the case. Your body needs time to recover from activity, even the low impact, low intensity type, particularly if you’re at the beginning of your fitness journey. You don’t want to risk injury, and you want to give your muscles and joints time to heal and get used to the new stresses and strains that they might be experiencing.
While you can see results from as little as two low-impact, hour-long sessions per week, the ideal range for most people is three to five of these sessions per week. As your body builds fitness, strength and resilience, you can up the intensity of these workouts or do multiple sessions every day. The key is to listen to your body and respond to its needs.
Another key: choosing the right water exercise equipment. You want a capable and adaptable machine that will be ready whenever you need it.