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Water Based Exercises

Summer is Here! Water based exercise offers safe and effective training for anyone with joint problems as the water takes a significant load away from the supporting joints. It can be a particular good choice for people who are undertaking a course of rehabilitation.

Walking or running across the pool or in the ocean requires a higher calorific expenditure than walking or running on dry land. It also provides a way of training without the usual risk of injuries that can be caused by these types of impact exercise.

Swimming is another great way of training the cardiovascular system without the bumps and stress of impact exercise. Like many other forms of exercise, it uses a variety of joints but you can change your swimming style to involve slightly different muscle groups. The overall training effect will be dictated by the amount of time you spend swimming, so if you practice sprint swimming, such as 100 meters, you will develop your short term energy system. To train the cardiovascular system, you should start by attempting to swim for longer than 3 minutes. If you are not comfortable with your swimming technique, try using floats to get started, or take some lessons to increase your confidence.

Make sure to protect your skin whenever you are performing outdoor exercises or activitites. Use sun block lotion, preferably the ones that saty on your skin when wet, and when inside the water, use ear plugs and googles.

What else can I do besides swimming?

Below are some examples of exercises you can do in a pool besides swimming:

  • Walk in place, forward, back, side-ways, diagonally, in a circular pattern, or from one side of the pool to the other and back. If you need, touch the pool wall for balance support.
  • Rather than walking, jog, run or leap through the water.
  • Hop on both feet (touching down as lightly as possible without hyperextending the knees upon landing). Alternately hop on one foot, then the other (without exceeding four consecutive hops per foot for joint safety).
  • Perform alternate high knee lifts to the front and/or sides.
  • Perform frog jumps with knees to the sides, pull both feet up as high as possible under the body, then return to standing posture.
  • Perform biceps/triceps strengthener: Alternately flex and extend the elbow against water resistance. Start with arms at sides, palms up; with upper arms re?maining against the body and elbows remaining pointed downward, bend the elbows and raise the hands toward the shoulders; while hands are at shoulder level, turn the palms forward and straighten the elbows, pressing hands down to starting position. Then turn palms up and repeat.
  • Perform pool wall push ups.
  • Back strengthener: Simply undertake walking activities in relatively shallow water (e.g., waist deep) while focusing intently on main?taining optimal posture.

Source: Get Fit, Cardio Training - Keith Littlewood; Exercise for Older Adults, ACE's Guide for Fitness Professoinals - American Council on Exercise

Adapted by Editorial Staff, May 2007
Last update, July 2008


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