Last one in the water is a ... Remember this challenge from your
childhood? For today's fitness-conscious adults, it has new meaning. Don't be
the last person to discover the new wave of water workouts -- for strength and
cardio training, flexibility, relaxation, rehabilitation, and weight
"We're seeing growth in both ends of the spectrum [of aquatic workouts],
from high-intensity exercises like kickboxing and circuit training to mind/body
workouts like ai chi, which combines tai chi and shiatsu massage," says
Julie See, president of the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA) in Nokomis, Fla.
"We're working against a perception that aquatic exercise is just for old
people, not the young and fit. With younger people coming into the water, we're
starting to see a lot of sport-specific training and one-on-one personal
After a skiing injury 30 years ago, Bert Pepper, MD, got osteoarthritis in his left knee. "I stopped skiing and gave up tennis, running, and other sports that are tough on the knee," he says. "I turned to speed-walking to stay fit, but the knee kept me from walking at a good pace."
As his pain got worse and walking became harder, he looked into having a knee replacement. It's not a decision to make lightly, says Pepper, who is a psychiatrist. "It's a major life event. You have to be prepared to...
"If it's been a decade or more since you had a water fitness class,
you'll see many changes," says Jane Katz, EdD, associate professor of
health and physical education, City College of New York, and author of
Aquafit: Water Workouts for Total Fitness. "Back then it would have
been traditional skills of breathing, floating and swimming, which are still
taught today, but with the addition of stretching and vertical exercises"
done in a standing position.
Another difference, she says, is the abundance of exercise equipment. A lot
of landlubber gear has made its way to the pool: handheld weights, rubber
tubing, even bicycles and treadmills. Plus, the old aquatic stand-bys like fins
and kickboards are no longer "one-size-fits all." They're engineered in
a host of styles to suit specific applications.
Who Can Benefit From Water Exercise?
Water exercise can benefit virtually everyone, says Katz. A former Olympian,
she teaches fitness and swimming to New York City firefighters and police
officers and also has a special fondness for a class for women in their 60s,
70s, and 80s. Athletes use water to rehabilitate after injury or to
cross-train. People with arthritis or other disabilities that can’t perform
land exercise use water to improve fitness and range of motion and to relieve
pain and stiffness.
Age and physical condition aren't issues in the water. Kids love to play in
water without realizing it's good for them. Seniors who rely on a walker or
wheelchair on land can stand in water with the help of flotation belts and
water's buoyancy. Water exercises provide less stress on the bodies of pregnant