Pool exercises offer an alternative to more high-impact exercises, and are a fun way to switch up a regular routine (Nayyar, 2016). The natural buoyancy of the human body helps to support its weight in water. Also, the body’s movements are slowed down more in the water than when moving through the air. Therefore, getting fit in the water may be ideal for a person with arthritis or joint pain, muscle pain, or back pain.
Pregnant women and individuals who are overweight can enjoy the benefits of water exercise as well. The classic exercise of swimming laps in the pool is a good practice for cardiovascular health. In fact, swimming laps burns more calories than jogging laps (Mullen, 2017). However, there are plenty of ways to get a workout in the pool. Ten of the best ways to get fit in water are listed below.
#1 Toning Arms
This exercise uses a ball. Stand with feet apart, holding the ball in front with arms stretched out. First, push the ball underwater. Then swirl the ball through the water in a figure eight motion. Use rhythmic breathing while pushing the ball down. Feel the resistance, and try to maintain balance throughout the exercise.
#2 Water Marching
Water marching is a rhythmic walking motion in the water. Stand up straight, extend the arms and legs as far as you can and make continuous strides. Water resistance maintains a slow marching pace. March with pointed toes and pull the arms back and forth for at least two minutes.
#3 Jumping Jacks
Jumping jacks in the water may be difficult for beginners to execute. Start with feet flat on the pool floor and arms at rest by your sides. Then spring up high, spreading your feet apart and raising your arms, so that the body resembles a five-point star. Land with bent knees and feet apart. Finally, jump up high and bring your feet back together and arms back to your sides.
#4 Side Stretch
To do a side stretch in the pool, first stand sideways to the pool wall. Fully extend your arm to hold onto the wall. Then inhale raising the outside arm up overhead. Exhale while leaning your hips away from the pool wall. Switch sides and repeat. Do an equal number of side stretches for each side.
#5 Waist Trimmer
Start with your back against the pool wall and stretch your arms out along the edge for support. Then bring your knees up toward your chest. As you inhale, swing your legs to the left and then to the right and back to center. As you exhale, bring the legs to the front and withdraw the knees from the chest. Repeat the waist trimmer ten times. Imagining yourself doing a sitting quadricept stretch with both legs can help to execute this exercise successfully.
#6 Total Body Stretch
Face the pool wall and hold onto the edge. Then, while inhaling, bend your knees and press your feet against the wall. Lastly, move your hips back while exhaling. Avoid straining the back or locking the knees. Ten repetitions are suggested for this exercise.
#7 Standing Kickbacks
Begin by standing an arm’s length away from the pool’s side. Shoulders are relaxed with hands at the sides. Then place both hands against the wall at shoulder height. Next, bend your knees slightly while tucking your bottom. Lift the left leg and swing it back, using the butt and thigh muscles. Avoid raising the leg too high and remember to keep the standing leg slightly bent at the knee. Lower the leg and switch. Work both sides evenly. It is recommended to do each leg five times.
#8 Leg Adduction and Abduction
Begin this exercise with your back pressed against the pool wall. Hold onto the rod (against the pool wall). While keeping your back straight, raise your legs. Try to spread them without straining the back, moving them at the hip joint only. Slowly close your legs together in the center. Repeat.
#9 Pool Planks
This exercise uses a noodle. Hold the noodle in front of you and lower yourself into a plank position. Your feet should still be on the pool floor with your elbows downward toward the pool floor. The noodle will be submerged. Hold the plank position for 15 to 60 seconds, depending on the strength of your core (Mulcahy, 2017).
#10 Floating on Water
An important part of any exercise routine is relaxation. Relaxing your muscles and allowing your body to float may be the perfect way to end a water workout routine. The water’s support of body weight helps to relieve the joints and relax the muscles. Floating may be easier for some than others because of body fat and muscle mass levels. Fat is less dense than water, and more buoyant. If trying to floating is more difficult than relaxing, then try using noodles or other floating helpers, or simply wade in the water to relax before exiting the pool.
Swimming exercises are a great combination of relaxing and working out. They are less harsh on the joints and can even help to slow some of the signs of aging. Workouts in the water increase muscle mass and oxygen flow to the brain. They also improve cardiovascular health, and can help to lower high blood pressure specifically. Plus, water’s healing nature has a tendency to help relieve stress.
Pregnant women can enjoy safe prenatal exercises in the water to help manage some of the discomforts, or as simply as part of continuing a healthy lifestyle through pregnancy. Try the ten top swimming exercises as part of your exercise regimen. Mix things up.