What Are The Benefits of Aquatic Exercise?

Water-based activities exist in lots of forms. Of course, there’s swimming. That one is obvious. But, people have also gotten a lot more creative than that when it comes to designing aquatic exercise routines. Everything from aerobics to yoga have been plucked from their usual classrooms and dunked in the pool. Even weight lifting has moved over to the water.

But…why? What are the benefits of aquatic exercises?

The General Stuff

As mentioned, there are lots of different types of aquatic exercise. And while this variety is great, allowing you to tailor the activity to your individual needs and preferences, it also creates some problems for our little discussion here.

Which is terribly selfish of us.

Still, the fact remains that when discussing the benefits of aquatic exercise, you have to make it clear whether you’re looking specifically at weight-bearing or cardiovascular workouts. These have totally different benefits. And so, we’re going to have to talk about them separately later on.

For now, let’s take a look at what they have in common.

The primary perk of aquatic exercise is that of buoyancy. When you’re in water up to your neck, the upward force placed on your body can reduce your weight by up to 90 percent. This means that any activity performed under those conditions can be pulled off with greatly reduced impact forces placed on your joints.

It’s also worth mentioning that, as you move through the pool, your limbs are constantly having to work against the resistance of the water. This – combined with the low-impact forces discussed above – is perfect for people with chronic inflammation and joint point. Aquatic exercise has been shown to improve joint health and mobility without increasing pain in both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Water Aerobics

Okay, so those are the generalities. What about specific forms of exercise? Let’s start with water aerobics, which basically move your cardio workout to the pool.

For many people – including those with chronic conditions or joint problems – the standard cardio workout is strictly off-limits. And limitation can be it very challenging to find any way to be active, causing many other health concerns.

Aquatic exercise, though, gets around this problem. As mentioned, the buoyancy of the pool allows you to move and strengthen your joints without causing further pain or damage. The water resistance also turns movements like running into full-body exercising, increasing their effectiveness when it comes to both caloric-expenditure and joint health.

Resistance Training

What about the other major class of workout styles, strength training? To a very large extent, the benefits of water-based resistance training are the same as those seen from water aerobic. Only, in this case, there are the added benefits of increased resistance.

By performing standard aquatic exercises while holding specialized weights, you can enhance the challenge placed on your joints and muscles. According to a 2016 study published in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, this type of exercise can greatly improve walking speed and symptoms of arthritis while also decreasing body fat.