By Pete Alfano
We all know that one of the best forms of exercise is walking. All you do is open the front door and be on your way. But perhaps the most complete form of exercise is aquatics. Working out in the water can tone your muscles from head to toe, increase your strength and improve your endurance. We’re not suggesting that you will look like Jason Momoa, who plays Aquaman in the movies. You can, however, look and feel better by spending quality time in the water that doesn’t include taking a shower or bath.
Now, not everyone has an oceanfront home or pool in the backyard. But you can find a community or fitness club near you with access to a pool where you can swim laps and do various aquatic exercises. It may cost a few dollars, but the investment in your health and well-being will be worth it.
Before diving in, make sure you are given the okay by your primary care physician to engage in strenuous exercise. It also helps to know how to swim. If you can’t, this is the best reason to learn.
What are the benefits of swimming? It is a non-impact activity for starters, which means you won’t be pounding the ground with your feet or legs. And using water weights and other aquatic devices such as foam dumbbells and lightweight ankle and wrist weights is safer than pumping iron in a gym.
Swimming laps works your entire body and helps build stamina. The benefits range from improving your mood and sleep to lowering your stress levels and even your blood pressure. And you don’t have to be gold-medal-winning Olympians such as Michael Phelps or Katie Ledecky to derive the benefits of the water world.
Swimming can help you lose weight if that is one of your objectives. According to the Centers for Disease Control, swimming laps at a slow or moderate pace can burn 420 calories an hour. What’s more, if you have arthritis, an injury, or a disability that makes high-impact exercise difficult or painful, swimming is the way to go.
For seniors or those who are not accomplished swimmers, aquatic exercises are a great way to achieve similar benefits. Just walking or jogging from one end of a pool to the other improves leg strength and stamina, with the water providing resistance. Many facilities offer aquatic classes where you can join others in water exercises. If you are a little unsteady in the water, wear a buoyancy belt for balance.
There are safety measures to follow in community or recreational pools as well. Make sure the pool is inspected regularly, has the proper balance of chemicals, and is free of bacteria. If you bring your young children, have them wear life jackets.
Is there a lifeguard on duty in case of an emergency involving an adult or child? Avoid swallowing pool or ocean water. And while it is common knowledge to shower after being in the ocean or a chlorinated pool, also practice good hygiene by rinsing off before entering the pool to minimize bringing germs you are carrying into the water.
Pool Your Resources
Buying equipment for aquatic exercise does not have to cost a fortune. Look at it this way — a pair of good running shoes usually run more than $100. So, what can you expect to pay for foam dumbbells, ankle weights, web feet, noodles, and a buoyancy belt? Like anything else, prices vary, but you can get everything you need for a reasonable amount.
- Foam dumbbells cost from $13 and up.
- Buoyancy belts range from $21 and up.
- Ankle weights cost from $12 and up.
- Pool noodles that are good for exercise cost $15 and higher.
- A basic kickboard can start at $12.
- Water shoes to keep your feet from blistering start at $15.
If you visit a sporting goods store or look online, you will find package deals that include a few of these pieces of aquatic exercise equipment. The good news is that it will not cost a fortune to begin your exercise regimen in the water.