The hot weather making exercise feel like a chore? Keep your exercise program going without breaking a sweat by exercising in your own pool. The health benefits of water exercise are numerous – plus, it’s fun!
Teira Jansen, senior physiotherapist and clinic manager of Aushealth Physiotherapy on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, says water exercises are for everybody, even those with injuries, arthritis or chronic back or joint pain.
“As physiotherapists, we use hydrotherapy to aid the rehabilitation process following injury or surgery,” she says. “Hydrotherapy is essentially water based therapy. We run our classes in a specialised pool that is heated to 32 degrees Celsius, creating a warm and comfortable environment.”
Not only those with an injury or other ailment can see the benefits of water exercise though. Here are some reasons why you and your whole family should jump in!
Why exercise in water?
The benefits of water exercise include increased strength, flexibility and stability, plus cardiovascular conditioning.
“The water removes a lot of the effects of gravity, making it easier to perform exercises without loading the joints as much as you would on land, especially the hips and knees,” says Teira. “Water can be used as resistance for strengthening exercises and flexibility, especially with the addition of pool buoys, noodles, etc.”
Hitting the pool for your fitness fix is especially great in summer, when land exercises can lead to you feeling overheated and lethargic. It also burns more calories with less risk of injury, plus the constant water resistance helps to tone every part of your body.
And whilst a cooler pool helps you to avoid the summer heat, you can gain other benefits if you have a heated pool.
“The water temperature helps to warm the muscles and joints, making movement easier, and the warmth also has an analgesic effect,” says Teira.
Exercising in the pool also lowers your stress levels. The feel of water on your body and the sound it makes has been proven to have a soothing effect on your mind, reducing the impacts of everyday stress.
Teira says exercising in water has even better mental health benefits for those recovering from injury.
“I find it helps people realise that they can do things that they thought they would never be able to do again – it’s a great stepping stone to recovery,” she says. “Quite often the first part of the recovery is when you feel you can't do anything. The water based environment means people can do things that they can't do on land and it helps them see that recovery is possible.”
As well as helping your mental health, water exercise relaxes your body too. By keeping your body at a comfortable temperature while you exercise, you can say goodbye to feeling sweaty, hot and bothered during a workout.
Water exercise with friends can take the effort out of exercise too; most water exercises require you to have your head and shoulders above water, so you are free to chat away. Another bonus of this type of workout is that you don’t have to bare all in lycra at the gym, but rather exercise in the comfort of your own backyard pool. With access to your pool at any time of the day, there will be no more excuses for not finding enough time to exercise!
Whether you want to take it slow or really get your pulse racing, there is a type of water exercise for you including aqua aerobics, or gentle stretching and lifting exercises. For the trend conscious, try out water boxing or water dancing, some of the newest forms of water exercise. Other options include laps, jogging and walking in water, squats, dance movements and stretches.
“Most weight bearing exercises that are done on land can be done in the water,” says Teira. “For lower limb strengthening we often have people doing squats, lunges, specialised walking exercises, hip flexion/abduction.”
Some exercises involve the use of flotation devices or flippers; check out your local Swimart store for a huge range of flotation devices.