Exercising in water provides a supportive environment for your body. The buoyancy of the water reduces your weight on impact, resulting in much less strain on your muscles and joints. This makes aqua aerobics a good choice of low impact fitness class for those new to exercise, those who can't move easily, and those who want to get fit and lose weight.
What are the benefits of aqua aerobics?
Aqua aerobics (also called water aerobics and aquafit) is a form of exercise which provides cardiovascular conditioning, increasing your pulse and your breathing rate. The term "aerobic" actually means "with oxygen". This means that your breathing controls the amount of oxygen that reaches your muscles to help them move and burn stored fuel. Aqua aerobics is similar to a normal aerobics class, but since it's done in the water, it places less strain on your joints.
Aqua aerobics also helps to strengthen the body because the water offers resistance. Water has much more resistance than air. are worked in each movement. The resistance exerted by water applies in both directions, too, as you push and pull against it. This means that each movement you make works two opposing muscle groups, not just one, as is the case when you work against gravity. Same effort: double the benefit.
Aqua aerobics is a beneficial all-over workout with a lower risk of injury than its land-based equivalent. This form of water exercise is also suitable for people of all ages, including older people, and can quickly improve your overall fitness.
Aqua aerobics is good for:
burning calories and losing weight
working all the major muscle groups
improving your balance and co-ordination
people with mobility problems
people with physical restrictions
relieving stress: the water massages you and the feeling of weightlessness can be very enjoyable.
If you're pregnant, aqua aerobics is good for both your physical and mental health. As an added bonus, the benefits of water include helping to support the weight of your growing bump, helping to take pressure off your back, and reducing lower-back pain.
As always, if you have any health concerns or a heart condition, check with your GP before taking up any new form of exercise. If you are overweight and just beginning exercise, the advantage of aqua aerobics is that the water supports your weight, so you can achieve much more in the water.
What to expect from an aqua aerobics class
You can find aqua-aerobics classes at many municipal swimming pools and leisure centres, as well as at many spas. You'll need to bring your swimming costume, of course, but you don't have to be a strong swimmer. You'll be able to keep a foot on the bottom of the pool at all times. Many classes do not require you to swim at all, just move in the water, but check with your teacher if you're concerned. You may be able to use a buoyancy aid if you prefer.
A typical aqua aerobics class will include:
a short warm-up to get your body used to the water and your muscles ready for exercise
cardiovascular exercises to get your heart pumping, such as jogging, leg kicks, body twists, arm stretches, and other dance-like movements
a cool-down at the end to avoid injury.
Some aqua aerobics classes may incorporate props in their workouts. These could include webbed gloves, ankle weights or dumbbells for added resistance, and floats for buoyancy.
As you'll already be in the pool, combine your water workout with a quick swim, or a visit to the Jacuzzi. A trip to the sauna or steam room can help your muscles relax after your class, too. (Miss the heat facilities if you're a mum-to-be as getting too hot is good for neither you nor your baby. Have a massage instead?)