What’s not to love about water aerobics? Aquatic fitness is a great way to stay healthy and active without breaking the bank or needing a lot of fancy equipment. You may have heard about the numerous physical and mental health benefits of aquatic exercise, and now you may be thinking — “why don’t I give it a try?”
If you’re looking for a place to start, check out these beginner-friendly water aerobics exercises you can try on your next trip to the pool.
What Are the Benefits of Water Aerobics?
In case you weren’t sure about trying out water aerobics, here are some of the most significant benefits of incorporating water aerobics into your fitness routine.
Low Risk of Injury
Swimming, water aerobics, and other pool exercises are great ways to stay healthy, especially for seniors and those with arthritis or injuries. The buoyancy of water provides additional support that you don’t have on land, resulting in low-impact exercises. That means that aquatic fitness is particularly easy on the joints.
Strength Training and Cardiovascular Exercise
Swimming and other water exercises are a great way to engage your body’s major muscle groups — more than most other forms of cardio. Your legs, upper body, core, back, and triceps are all engaged while you swim against the resistance of the water. Plus, you can raise your heart rate plenty during an intense pool workout.
The benefits of water-based exercise go beyond just potential weight loss and increased strength — they’re mental as well. Swimming has been shown to relieve anxiety and depression and improve overall mood. Swimming can also help strengthen social bonds and improve quality of life.
Tips for Water Aerobics:
- Have a support system: Whether it’s a friend, personal trainer, or water aerobics group, having somebody by your side is crucial for motivation, technique, and safety.
- Get the gear: All you need to get started with water aerobics is a swimsuit. However, if you plan to make water workouts part of your routine, you may want to invest in additional gear such as goggles, a swim cap, water weights, and a kickboard. A swimsuit coverup, resistance band, pool noodle, and stopwatch are also good to have handy.
- Pace yourself: When you’re in the swimming pool, it can be easy to get swept up in the fun and ignore aching muscles or feel dehydrated. Make sure you stay in tune with your body, and you don’t overwhelm yourself.
- Look for local classes: Getting the advice of a professional trainer or fitness enthusiast can be invaluable when starting out. Check out your local gym or pool to see if you can sign up for a one-on-one or group aqua fitness session.
- Find the right swimsuit: When working out in the pool, you don’t want to worry about fixing your suit. In these cases, an athletic style one-piece suit can be better suited for water fitness.
Without further ado, here are some water aerobics exercises you can try next time you are in the pool!
Exercise 1. Water Walking
This is an excellent entry-level cardio workout for people of all ages. If you’re unsure where to start in your water aerobics journey, you can’t go wrong with a few rounds of water walking. In short, it’s exactly what it sounds like. You are walking in the shallow water near the side of the pool.
Keeping your posture as upright as possible during this exercise is essential. Walk from one end of the pool to the other in waist-deep water. If your pool is very busy, you can also march in place. If you choose to march in place, make sure to move your arms for a full-body workout. For a bigger challenge, try this in deeper water, or increase your pace to a jog after a walk warm-up.
Exercise 2. Leg Lifts and Leg Swings
For this exercise, you may want to hold on to the pool's edge. For your starting position, engage your core muscles and straighten your spine. Keeping your spine straight, simply lift your left leg out to the side and back down. Repeat with your right leg. Try doing ten reps with each leg.
For a variation on this, you can also lift your leg forwards or backward by standing perpendicularly to the edge of the pool, keeping it at arm’s length. Engage your back and abdominal muscles for core strengthening. If you don’t often work out your thighs or glutes, expect to feel a bit sore in the morning.
Exercise 3. Wall Push-Ups
Unlike regular push-ups, doing wall push-ups in the pool is a good way to ease yourself into building more strength in your arms. Stand in front of the pool wall, with your palms flat against it and shoulder-width apart. With your feet planted firmly on the floor, lean towards the wall and push back — like a vertical push-up. Remember that you don’t want your elbows to lock as you push out.
Try to do ten of these push-ups to start off. Over time, you can increase it to 20 or 30 push-ups.
Exercise 4. Wall Chair
Start by standing with your back against the wall of the pool. Bend your elbows to hold onto the pool’s edge behind you. Then, while you are firmly grasping the wall, lift your feet off of the pool floor and bring your knees up to your chest as best as you can. Try to hold this position for five to ten seconds before putting your feet back down.
If you struggle with strength and flexibility, this can be a difficult exercise, so try working your way up to it. Once you’ve got it down, repeat it ten times.
Exercise 5. Back Wall Glide
This is an exercise that we’ve probably all done in one way or another as kids. Start by holding on to the pool ledge with your knees tucked up towards your chest. Press your feet against the wall. If you struggle with flexibility, adjust your legs to whatever feels comfortable. Then, push off from the wall and allow yourself to float on your back. Straighten yourself back up and water walk or jog back to the pool ledge.
Try doing this five times to start. From there, you can increase the number of repetitions.
Exercise 6. Water Arm Lifts
For this exercise, you can use foam dumbbells or water weights to increase the difficulty level.
Begin by standing in water that reaches up to your shoulders. Hold the water weights at your sides. Bend your elbows to curl the weights upward so that your palms face your shoulders. Rotate your wrists facedown as you bring the weights back down.
Do ten reps of this and repeat if you feel up to it.
Although swimming is not a water aerobics exercise, it can still offer many of the same benefits. It’s not a water exercise to be overlooked as it is a great way to participate in both cardio and strength training.
There’s a reason that swimming is touted as one of the best full-body exercises out there. Just 30 minutes of swimming can help prevent heart disease, burn calories, and engage almost every major muscle in your body.
Don’t overwhelm yourself if you’re just starting out. Even just swimming gentle laps with breaks in between will help you stay healthy.
While these exercises are an excellent place to start, don’t limit yourself to just this list. There are many ways to get a water workout, both with and without equipment. The best way to get started is by acquainting yourself with your local pool or gym and seeing if they have any available classes or training sessions.
And remember — if you start feeling dizzy, weak, or overly sore, take a break and drink some water. These exercises are meant to help you stay healthy, not to push you to the brink. Always stay in tune with your mind and body while you exercise, and good luck!