Hate the Gym? Work Out in Water
If you've been looking for a new and refreshing way to get or
stay in shape, or if you're tired of sore feet and aching joints, water exercise may be for you. Because
it's low impact and can easily be tailored to match your abilities, everyone
from athletes to seniors can benefit from water exercise.
Working out in the water can be a great way to gain
cardiovascular stamina, improve strength and flexibility, enhance body
contours, increase circulation, rehabilitate healing muscles, and control weight.
Taking Advantage of Water
To appreciate why water training works so well, you need to
understand water's unique properties. In water, you have almost no gravity.
You're relieved of 90 percent of your body weight, so you become buoyant. This
frees you to move in new ways. You can float, bob and relax without feeling
like you're putting out an effort. Yet water provides 12% to 14% more
resistance than air, so moving through it is like having weights all around
Burning Fat, Building Muscle
Unfortunately, in a widely publicized 1987 study on the
benefits of water exercise, swimmers reported that they didn't lose any fat or
didn't increase their rate of fat loss. But these swimmers swam in cold water,
which meant they needed a layer of fat to keep them warm.
Most swimming workouts take place in
pools filled with warm water -- 82 to 84 degrees -- vs. typical ocean
temperatures of 50 to 60 degrees. In the past, researchers have shown that some
people who do rhythmic water exercise, such as water aerobics, are able to burn just as much fat and build
just as muscle as they could in land exercise programs.
Let's take a look at some of the most popular workouts and how
to maximize their benefits. If you are new to exercise, consult your doctor
before starting this or any other exercise program. And for safety reasons,
avoid swimming alone.
To make every lap count, consider these facts: A 150-pound
person who swims using a standard stroke at a 25-yard-per-minute pace can burn
140 calories in 30 minutes. At a 50-yard-per-minute pace, the same person can
burn 250 calories in 30 minutes.
When deciding how to pace yourself in the pool, simply
calculate how many laps equal 25 or 50 yards. Then try to complete that number
of laps in one minute. For example, to swim 50 yards in one minute in my
15-yard pool, I would need to swim about three laps in one minute. To burn 250
calories, I would have to swim three laps in each minute of a 30-minute
Try to use different strokes to vary the muscles you work. Or
consider doing other types of water exercise to keep your workout balanced.