Summer hits and the last thing I want to do is exercise. The heat is my excuse: it’s too hot to power walk, ride my bicycle, or be physical whatsoever in the hellish outdoors. Since I’m not a gym person, I’m stuck between following a workout DVD or getting up at the crack of el amanecer. I’m not a great swimmer either, so laps in a pool are not an option, and water aerobics is for when I turn 65, so that’s out. Besides, I couldn’t possibly get a good enough workout in a pool without swimming laps, especially if I can’t even work up a sweat.
Ay, que mensa I am.
I must admit that up until, oh, this article, I thought water aerobics was for wimps or viejitos – the lazy man’s workout. Boy, was I wrong. The truth is some of the health perks of aqua fitness supersede land exercise, thanks to the magic of water.
For all abilities and ages
Aquatic fitness – also called water aerobics, water exercise and aquatic exercise – is actually an effective way for people of all abilities and all ages to stay in shape (so much for my ageist attitude). In a report published in 2005, American Sports Data claimed almost 6 million people in the U.S. participate in aquatic exercise (not including sports like water skiing). And many forms of exercise on land can be done in water, including aerobics, weight training, jogging, running, even cycling. Some require pool props, but that’s okay; it makes it more fun.
Because of the natural qualities of water, aqua fitness has the edge on “earth” exercises in many ways, which is why it’s so adaptable for all skill levels:
– the buoyancy makes it low impact, so no added stress to joints;
– the lack of gravity allows for greater range of motion and endurance;
– the water provides natural resistance for muscle building, especially if you use aquatic exercise gear,
– and you can’t get overheated.
Plus, the cooling effect of the water reduces the workload on the heart without compromising oxygen consumption, which is what contributes to cardiovascular health.
On top of all that good news, aquatic fitness is also more suitable for those with more intense physical challenges, such as corpulence, back pain, osteoporosis, and arthritis.
And more men are starting to catch on to the advantages of aquatic fitness, although they don’t populate water aerobics classes the way women do.
Tina Royer, recreation coordinator for the Eldorado Aquatic and Fitness Center in Scottsdale, admits women are the majority at the city’s aquatic center. “We do have some men in our classes,” says Royer.
Man, woman, no importa. If you can float in water, you can exercise in water. And if aqua fitness is completely new to you, start by signing up for a class, or at the very least, watch a few videos on YouTube. Most municipalities offer a variety of water aerobics classes; ask if you can observe a few and find one you like. What’s right for you depends on your needs and abilities. And as is true for most activities, work at your own pace and comfort level. Find out if instructors are trained and certified; you’ll want someone who can guide you and, if necessary, make modifications to the exercises.
Some of the classes offered by city of Scottsdale are shallow-water aerobics, deep-water aerobics, Tone and Tai Chi, Ache Away, and the Arthritis Foundation aquatic program. The public pool or gym near you likely offers similar classes. Once you’ve got the exercises down, you can get your aquatic groove on in your own pool at home.
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