How All Bodies Can Benefit From Water Activity
Lowering blood pressure, increasing work capacity, improving mobility and balance – exercise has gained the reputation as a cure-all when it comes to improving overall health and wellness. Unfortunately, for those with arthritis, obesity, low back pain, or other orthopedic issues, exercise may be difficult. The pain and joint discomfort that often come along with weight-bearing activities can stymie even the most committed exerciser. Fortunately, the swimming pool provides the perfect exercise environment for those who should avoid high-impact workouts.
Activity in the water buoys their bodies, minimizing the effect of gravity, while conditioning both upper and lower body muscles without stressing their joints, bones, and ligaments. In fact, while swimmers can enjoy many of the benefits of running, cycling and other dry-land activities, they can do so at dramatically lower injury rates. Runners can also benefit from swimming as a cross-training and active recovery tool.
Those who are not into swimming laps can still benefit from exercising in the water. Aquatic exercise classes are popular options available at most YMCAs, JCCs, and other community centers, and they do not require the prerequisite skills of lap swimming. The social support they can provide will keep you engaged and “on-the-wagon” longer than exercising on your own. If your interest is piqued, visit your local facility, and check their class schedule to find a time that’s convenient for you. Also, be aware of any requirements or recommended equipment, such as pool shoes and goggles. Not sure if you want to commit? See if you can try a class before becoming a member of the facility or enrolling in an aquatics program.
Don’t fret if you are not a swimmer, or do not enjoy group activities. Simply walking in the shallow end, waist or chest-deep in the pool, can provide a muscular and cardiovascular challenge, while relieving gravity-induced discomfort. Be sure to plant your whole foot on the bottom. If your feet are sensitive, or if you have a condition like diabetes, make sure you wear pool shoes to protect the soles of your feet from scrapes and cuts. Walk across the pool swinging your arms as you do when you walk on land, tighten your abdominal muscles and keep your back straight.
Aquatic exercise offers great alternatives for people of all fitness and skill levels. Whether the goal is a low-impact workout or a new challenge, the time might be right to jump in the pool!