Aqua exercise is one of the best all-around exercise programs available today. The water enhances a vigorous workout as it protects against injury. Due to the water’s buoyancy, movement and flexibility are enhanced. The joints are supported and protected. This relative weightless feeling minimizes discomfort and cushions the body, allowing for aerobic movement that might otherwise be impossible (ex: jumping jacks). Due to the resistance of the water, muscles are strengthened and toned.
Every time you jump, the force of landing multiplies your body weight seven times. Jumping or jogging in the water produces only a mild impact on the joints, weight bearing bones, and the skeletal system. When standing in shoulder deep water, a person’s body weight is reduced by 90 percent. If a person is standing in chest deep water, it is reduced by 70 percent. If a person is in waist deep water, the impact is reduced by 50 percent.
The water produces a strengthening effect on the muscles because the water has 12 times more resistance than air. For example, a straight leg kick forces the leg to push against the water as it returns to a standup position so the resistance of the water is forcing the leg to work harder. Also, because of buoyancy, the kicking leg can kick higher and create more range of motion . The much increased reduction in gravity means that flexibility and range of motion are enhanced. This creates a great environment for the goal of improving flexibility.
The different properties of the water will thus create a perfect opportunity for cross training. For someone who is accustomed to doing cardiovascular training on land, the switch to aqua workouts will be a refreshing change. One will notice far less pain and injury. Blisters, foot problems, shin splints and other joint problems are greatly reduced. There also is a decreased risk of over-heating since the water acts as a natural coolant. Aqua exercise also promotes weight loss, deeper ventilation and blood circulation. People with injuries or special limitations, elderly, and pregnant women can especially benefit with this form of exercise. Athletes and exercisers will also see great benefits from working in this different environment.
When in the water, your heart no longer endures the same gravitational pull as land. Circulation is enhanced so that the heart is taxed differently. Due to the buoyancy of the water, heart rate charts will not be applicable. The best measure of intensity is perceived exertion. If the movement in the water feels too easy, try to move faster while still maintaining the control. Push through the water at a speed that will give you the perception of working harder.
The faster you attempt to execute an exercise through the resistance of the water, the more work output is required. The result is increased heart rate and muscle fatigue. If you tried to walk in the water at the same speed you walk on land, you will find that you will tire much quicker.
The supportive qualities of water can reduce the incidence of joint injury to less than 1 percent and can help increase joint range of motion. Long term effects of water workouts are a stronger cardiovascular system, muscle strength and endurance, and improved flexibility. Many people get their best workouts from working out in the water.