Why Water Exercise is a Great Workout

The winter is a great time to liven up your movement program. And if you're looking for something new, consider an indoor pool. They're not just for lap swimming!


11 Reasons You Should Try Water Exercise


Whether it is a warm water class or deep water interval training, many pools offer a wide range of programming. Water classes are often thought to be for the elderly or the injured athlete, but water classes are a good fit for all fitness levels. UW Health Fitness Center staff share several reasons to try an aquatic exercise class this year:

  • Water activity is lower impact. The decreased weightbearing effects that buoyancy provides decreases the impact loading on joints. You can burn calories and get a cardiovascular challenge while allowing your muscle and joints an easier workout.

  • Water can be a whole-body workout. The resistance created while moving in the water works your whole body including your arms, back and core.

    UW Health Fitness Center staff offer tips for making the most of water exercise
  • Water can improve ease of movement. In the water we are able to move more freely than we can on land. Walk forward, backward, sideways or twist. In the pool squats are easy!

  • Moving in the water can minimize the fear of falling. You can use the pool to challenge your balance in a safe and supportive environment.

  • Water exercise with a group can be fun! Joining a water exercise class can be a great outlet to decrease stress in some individuals.

  • Stay cool. Unlike land-based aerobic exercise, sweating is not obvious in the water. For individuals who don’t like to sweat this can be a perfect solution. This can also be beneficial for people with health conditions that are negatively affected by the internal warmth created with exercise (Multiple Sclerosis as an example).

  • Get warm! Most aquatic centers keep their air temperature at a balmy 80 degrees or higher! Enjoy a respite from the harsh outside temperatures while you exercise in the pool.

  • Water workouts can be great addition to an aerobic training program and cross training alternative. Individuals who do multiple forms of exercise may decrease their risk of overuse injuries.

  • If you are recovering from an injury, water workouts can allow you to get back into training sooner. If you are a runner, walker or biker that is healing an injury, the water may provide a safe environment to continue exercising.

  • Water is a wonderful environment to practice Tai Chi or yoga in. The water supports you, decreases worries of losing balance and allows for a flowing movement that can be harder to attain on land.

  • Challenge yourself to learn a new skill or work toward a new goal. Learn to swim, overcome a fear of water or train for a triathlon. There are 'Swim 101' classes for those new or anxious about the water and master swim classes for those training for a competition goal.

A Few Tips for Starting a Water Program


As with any new form of exercise, start slow. This is especially true if you are just starting your exercise program or are rehabilitating an injury. The water can feel so good that new participants may overdo it a little because movement is so much easier. Here are some additional tips on starting an water program:

  • For your first workout start with 15 -20 minutes, keep the intensity light to moderate and see how you feel over the next 24 hours. That will be your guide on how long or how intense your next pool workout can be.

  • If you are nursing an injury, keep jumping, running and twisting actions to a minimum until your body tells you how it feels. You may not know the full effect of your intensity until after you get out of the support of the pool.

  • Whether doing a vigorous aerobic program, a walking program or some gentle Tai Chi, think about tall posture and full foot contact to the floor. The buoyancy can encourage people to stay up on their toes which can lead to sore calf muscles.

  • Drink more water to help support what you lose during your exercise. In the water you don't feel warm and sweaty so there is less of a cue to replace fluids.

  • You may be a little tired after your first few pool workouts. This usually resolves after the first couple of visits and your body adjusts to the new activity.

  • There are a lot of different props you can use to add or decrease work load in the water. Ask the exercise specialist at your pool for some tips on improving your workout. You might be surprised by all you can do!


Date Published: 01/14/2015

News tag(s):  fitnesssports

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