Life on earth began in the water, so it’s no surprise that many of us feel compelled to return to it, whether for fun, therapy or exercise. Water offers a very different environment to land: one in which your weight is counteracted by buoyancy, allowing you to do things that simply aren’t possible when you’re dry. This is what makes aqua fitness such an alluring proposition.
Aqua fitness can be defined as any physical activity that is conducted in water and that contributes to your overall health. This broad definition means that aqua fitness, AKA aquacise, spans all forms of activity, at all levels of intensity, in (almost) all bodies of water.
But what does aqua fitness actually look like, what does it do for your body, and is it the right fitness solution for you? In this guide we’ll take a deep dive into the world of aqua fitness to answer all these questions and more.
What is aqua fitness?
Aqua fitness simply means undertaking physical activity in water. If you raise your heart rate while in a pool of H2O, you are technically participating in aqua fitness.
The most common form of aquacise is swimming, but the concept of aqua fitness really blew up with aqua aerobics, a craze that swept the world during the 70s and 80s and still retains a loyal following.
Since then aqua fitness has expanded to include a wealth of different exercises offered through purpose-built tools and machines, some of which, like Endless Pools swim spas, can be installed right in your own backyard.
On top of using a powerful current generation system to offer an incredible swim-in-place experience, compact Endless Pools machines can be used for walking and running (using the underwater treadmill), rowing (using the Water Rower kit), underwater cycling (using the Aquabike) and resistance training (with custom designed bands).
Aqua fitness vs hydrotherapy
The definition of aqua fitness may sound a lot like the definition of another form of water-based activity: hydrotherapy. And it’s true that both aquacise and hydrotherapy involve movement in water. But there’s a key difference that separates the two.
- Hydrotherapy is the use of low impact, water-based exercise as a treatment. This could be to rehabilitate or recover from illness or injury, to promote movement in those with limited mobility, or to manage the symptoms of a chronic condition. Hydrotherapy is always undertaken with a treatment goal in mind.
- Aqua fitness, on the other hand, is the use of water-based activity to enhance a person’s overall health and happiness through exercise. It’s more prevention than cure.
What does aqua fitness do?
What are the effects of aquacise on the body? As it turns out, there are a number of key ways in which aqua fitness differs from exercise on dry land.
The first and most obvious is that water has the effect of making you weightless, because your natural buoyancy counteracts gravity. This instantly takes pressure and stress off bones, joints and muscles, and makes it a far more comfortable form of exercise. If that water is also warm, as it is in an Endless Pools swim spa, a couple of other physiological responses will be triggered too:
- Your blood vessels dilate and your heart pumps harder, sending more oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood around your body.
- Your metabolism improves, as the physiological response to warm water immersion is similar to that of physical exercise.
Pairing these physiological responses with a more comfortable form of exercise can lead to proven health benefits. On top of increasing your cardio fitness, activity in warm water has been proven to:
How many calories does aqua fitness burn?
When you hear that aqua fitness is a more comfortable form of exercise, it can be tempting to think that it will be less effective. You want to feel that ‘good pain’ that personal trainers always talk about, right?
Yes and no. Some of the pain that you feel during exercise isn’t beneficial at all. Exercising on dry land is full of harsh impacts – think of box jumps at the gym or running on the pavement. Sure, these activities get your heart rate up, but when done incorrectly or over an extended period they can also jar your joints and cause real pain.
Aqua fitness is ultra-low impact because it removes gravity from the equation. But it can also be as high intensity as you need it to be – see Olympic swimmers gasping at the end of their race.
While exact calorie burning figures vary greatly from person to person, aquatic exercise has been proven to elicit the positive metabolic responses that underpin weight loss. Swimming and other forms of aqua fitness will burn a similar number of calories to traditional exercise if you get your heart rate to a similar level.
In fact, simply sitting in warm water, like what you’d find in an Endless Pools swim spa, has been proven to burn (a small amount of) calories, so the heated water of a swim spa can further enhance the weight loss potential of swimming.
Who is aqua fitness good for?
Aqua fitness is perhaps the most adaptable and accessible form of exercise there is. It can be enjoyed by anyone old enough to be safe around water, while being one of the best forms of physical activity that the elderly and people with limited mobility can take part in. It can also be as light or as intense as a person chooses, making it as effective for Olympians as it is for someone with a chronic medical condition.
In short, aqua fitness is great for everyone!
Endless Pools swim spa: aquacise on tap
The main issue with aqua fitness is where to get it. For most people it’s a matter of travelling to a nearby body of water, whether the ocean, a lake or a local aquatic centre. Sure, some people are lucky enough to have a lap pool or backyard swimming pool, but most don’t have the space, and often you’ll be tumble-turning as much as swimming.
Enter Endless Pools swim spas, which deliver a truly endless, tumble turn-free swim – and a wealth of other aquatic exercises – but in a warm water machine measuring just a few metres long.
Endless Pools swim spas bring the ocean to you. The powerful hydraulic propulsion system creates a strong current that is as wide as your body, as deep as your stroke, and extremely low in turbulence. When you set your speed, start your stroke and close your eyes, there’s no real way to know you’re not in open water.
Add in the underwater treadmill, the rowing kit and other accessories, and you can recreate your entire gym routine right in the low-impact environment of the water!
The aquacise offered by our swim spas needs to be felt to be believed… which is why we offer the opportunity to try before you buy! Your local Hot Spring dealer has a range of models ready to go, so why not book in a test swim today?