What to Know About Water Jogging

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on June 15, 2021

In terms of most popular sports activities, swimming takes fourth place in the U.S. Water jogging is a low-impact exercise that raises your heart rate without putting too much pressure on your joints. No matter your age or exercise level, water jogging is beneficial for avoiding high-impact exercises like running on pavement or a treadmill.

Benefits of Water Jogging

Reduces risk of chronic illness. All types of aerobic exercise provide benefits. By participating in an activity like water jogging for 2 to 3 hours each week, you can reduce your risk of developing a chronic illness like diabetes or heart disease.

Increases muscle strength. Moving your body through the water is slower and more difficult than moving your body through the air. Because water is more dense than air, any muscle movement in the water is met with more resistance than it is used to. This means that any movement in the water helps to build muscle strength.

With water jogging, it is possible to get an intense workout without the possibility of injury that other activities can pose for some people.

Eases arthritis. More traditional forms of exercise often lead to pain when you have arthritis. Water jogging allows you to get your cardio workout without putting pressure on your joints. While it may not get rid of arthritis symptoms, water jogging can improve the use of affected joints and lessen pain.

‌Provides aerobic activity that’s gentle on the body. If you want the benefits of regular exercise but can’t participate in many of the activities available to you, water jogging can be the perfect choice for a gentle, aerobic activity. Anyone of any level can benefit from water jogging, but it's particularly beneficial for those looking to avoid high-impact activities such as:

  • Pregnant women
  • Older adults
  • People with arthritis or fibromyalgia
  • People with developmental disabilities
  • People recovering from surgery or injury

Improves mental health. Regular exercise has been shown to improve your mental health. While water jogging is beneficial to anyone, it is particularly beneficial to someone who can not participate in other cardio activities. The inability to complete other cardio activities may leave you anxious or depressed – water jogging is an opportunity to participate in a physical activity that can boost your confidence and release endorphins to improve your mood.

Risks of Water Jogging

All physical activities come with risk of injury. If you're new to water activities or haven't been swimming in a while, take it slow. Spend time getting used to the water and swimming with gentle kicks and strokes until you feel comfortable. Even though water jogging is low-impact, you should still listen to your body and slow down if you feel out of breath or experience any pain.

Water jogging does not provide the same benefits to your bones as jogging on land or on a treadmill. Higher impact activities improve your bone density, but water jogging doesn't allow you to bear your weight in the same way. It is best to also include some weight bearing activities in your routine such as walking, gardening, climbing the stairs, or strength training. 

Water Jogging Gear

You may not think of needing much gear for water jogging, but it can help to improve your workout. Ideas for equipment include: 

Goggles. Goggles keep the water out of your eyes so you can see better during your activity‌.

Foam dumbbells. Add intensity to your workout by increasing the resistance. These dumbbells are very light outside of the water, but feel heavy when used under water. 

Water weights. Strap weight to your ankles or wrists to increase intensity for arm and leg motions when you jog. 

Kickboard. If you need added upper body support as you start water jogging, a kickboard can help. Over time you may not need it, but at first it's a supportive tool for staying afloat. 

Buoyancy belt. This is another effective way to stay afloat. If you're in deeper water, the belt helps keep your head above water without too much effort. This allows you to focus more on your technique and less on staying afloat. It can also free your hands to complete additional workout motions. 

Show Sources


CDC: “Health Benefits of Water-based Exercise.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Exercising in water: Big heart benefits and little downside.”

Mayo Clinic: “Ready to get in on the aquatic fitness movement?”

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