THE WONDERS OF WATER
Fit Facts About Aquatic Exercise
Because water provides natural resistance to body movements, you can strengthen complementary muscle groups more readily in the pool than on land. For example, when you do arm curls in a weight room, to strengthen your biceps you lift the weight against the force of gravity. When you lower the weight you hardly work your muscles at all. In contrast, when you do an arm curl in water, you have resistance in both directions so you strengthen the biceps muscles on the way up and the triceps muscles on the way down.

You don't need equipment to intensify your workout. Cup your hands to pull the water with more force or slice your fingers through the water for less resistance. Deep-Water workouts, such as aqua jogging, can be especially intense. When your feet can't reach the bottom, more muscle groups come into play and you can use a greater range of motion than in shallow water. Deep-water exercisers usually wear a flotation belt to remain upright during the workout.

Nonswimmers can take aquatic exercise classes in shallow water (waist to chest deep). In these classes you keep your head above the water at all times.

 

 

As for the common belief that swimming burns less fat and fewer calories than do other exercises, we cannot confuse water aerobic activities with traditional swimming. Swimming is done horizontally and is meant to be done in a streamlined manner. The idea isn't to work specific muscle groups but to get through the water smoothly. One hour of aquatic aerobics bums 400 to 700 calories-about the same amount as land based aerobics.

Aerobic workouts in the pool are perfect for those who find the same movements on land too jarring or painful: running striding, kicking, leaping and even dancing. Keep in mind that in the water, heart rate will be reduced by as much as 17 beats per minute when compared land exercise. That's why it's important to pay attention to how you feel. Your heart rate might indicate that your intensity is too low when you are actually exercising quite strenuously.

Because of their gravity-defying buoyancy, water workouts are ideal for anyone who are rehabilitating from an injury. Besides easing the strain on joints and providing muscle-toning benefits, the water stimulates your circulation, increasing the flow of oxygen and energy to muscles. If you have an injury that can't tolerate any impact at all, avoid jumping exercises in shallow water.

Besides being great exercise for almost every body type, there is also evidence that aquatic exercise can ward off the deterioration of bone mass that leads to osteoporosis. The massaging action that improves circulation also relieves tension. This helps to lower stress levels. Water's soothing qualities are a treat for jangled nerves and damaged bodies.

The pool is a fun place to feel like a kid again and get a great workout. In fact, instead of feeling out of breath or exhausted, a water class can leave you feeling surprisingly calm yet energetic.


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