Any kind of exercise is good for your health, and water-based exercise provides a low-impact workout that can benefit you in many ways.
When you are in water, your body feels about 90 percent lighter. This means when you are exercising in water, your body does not experience the same impact as it does exercising on land.
Also, water exercising gives you a break from the monotonous gym routines. By doing water-based exercises, sometimes called aquatic exercise, you can stay refreshed during your entire workout as compared to the stickiness and fatigue typical of a land routine. Moreover, it is all about fun and enjoyment.
Working out in water is beneficial for people of all age groups – from children to elderly people. Even people with muscle, tendon and bone injuries, as well as overweight and pregnant women, can try water exercises.
Plus, this kind of workout does not require any additional equipment. You simply need a swimming pool and you are ready for your workout session.
Working out in water is a kind of therapeutic activity that benefits you physically as well as mentally.
Here are some of the benefits of exercising in water.
1. Aids Weight Loss
Water exercises can help you lose weight quickly.
In aquatic exercise, the strength and cardio workouts are mixed with water resistance. This means the body gets a full workout.
Depending on the intensity of your workout and your weight, when aquatic exercise is done on a daily basis for about 30 to 60 minutes, you can burn about 300 to 500 calories a day.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Obesity found that aqua jogging can help reduce body fat and waist circumference as well as improve aerobic fitness and quality of life.
In a 2014 study published in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, researchers found that regular aquatic exercise can help reduce the body’s fat percentage.
2. Improves Joint Health
Aquatic exercises are low-impact exercises that help improve joint health.
While performing water exercise, the buoyancy of the water does not put much pressure on the joints. Also, it minimizes negative effects like pain and fatigue.
This is very beneficial for people suffering from some kind of joint condition like arthritis or those undergoing physical rehabilitation.
A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine reports that aquatic exercise therapy can be a useful method to improve joints’ strength and range of motion in hemophilia patients in order to improve their daily functioning and quality of life.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Rheumatology found that regular swimming exercise reduced joint pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis, and improved muscle strength and functional capacity in middle-aged and older adults with osteoarthritis.
3. Improves Flexibility and Mobility
During land exercise, body movements are restricted due to the effects of gravity and the fear of falling. But when exercising in water, the body is subject to water resistance that helps the joints become more flexible and their range of motion increases.
Water exercises are beneficial at improving back and lower body flexibility. Flexibility is an important element of fitness, as poor flexibility can limit range of motion and mobility, reducing balance and coordination.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science reports that aqua aerobic therapy exercise is an effective exercise method for training older adults to reduce their risk of falling. This happens as it leads to significant improvement in gait pattern and recovery time after perturbed gait.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation found that people who swim on a regular basis show significant improvement in physical fitness, muscular endurance, flexibility and cardiopulmonary endurance.
Warm water is best for enhancing flexibility because it helps keep the muscles pliable. So to improve flexibility and mobility, opt for warm-water pools.
4. Reduces Blood Pressure
When you exercise in water, water resistance helps blood circulate more effectively throughout the body. This in turn reduces blood pressure and, in the long run, also reduces resting heart rate.
At the same time, aquatic workouts are a great way to build up cardio endurance.
A 2010 study published in the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine reports that a 10-week course of water aerobic exercise markedly reduced the systolic and mean arterial blood pressure of patients with essential hypertension and is especially recommended for the obese and the elderly who have orthopedic problems or bronchospasm.
A 2017 study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology reports that like exercise on land, aquatic exercise has a beneficial effect by lowering blood pressure.
5. Increases Muscle Strength
As water is constantly flowing and changing direction, it provides more resistance as compared to air. This is why swimming a mile in the water takes much longer than walking a mile on land.
When you exercise in water, your muscles get a serious workout. As you work against the resistance, your muscles develop and grow stronger. This also helps improve muscle flexibility and agility.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that land-based and aquatic exercises seem to lead to similar muscle strength gains. Aquatic exercise should be recommended as a strategy to improve muscle strength, but new studies with better methodological quality are needed.
6. Reduces Stress
Any kind of water exercise can be beneficial in reducing stress and anxiety.
It is true that just looking at the movement of the sea or activities around a pool can be one of the most soothing activities that can help relieve stress. But, being in the water is also very relaxing and soothing for the body and mind. In fact, water sounds are used for meditation!
Water workouts stimulate the brain to release feel-good hormones called endorphins, which in turn reduce stress and make you feel good.
Also, these exercises encourage oxygen flow to your muscles and regulate your breathing.
7. Additional Equipments are Not Necessary
Water workout can also be done even without using additional weights. The resistance of water on waist or chest high water works as a built-in resistance for cardio and strength training.
It increases the intensity of your workout and makes the muscles work harder. This in turn facilitates fat burning, aids weight loss, and improves flexibility.
Water exercises, when done without weights, can be particularly beneficial for those suffering from joint pains, arthritis, or some injury who cannot use weights.
However, if you are not restricted to avoiding weights, it’s best that you do both weight-bearing as well as water exercises; weight-bearing exercises are important as they help prevent bone loss and osteoporosis.