If you’re looking for a low-impact exercise that will allow you to gain muscle, get a solid cardio workout, improve your lung capacity, and maybe even drop a few pounds, you might just want to try water walking. Sound too good to be true? Read on to learn more about this incredibly beneficial exercise.
What Is Water Walking?
Without sounding glib, water walking is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: walking in the water. There are some specifics, however, that make water walking more than just your typical stroll.
With water walking, it’s important that you are in water that is deep enough to give you a challenge. The water should be at least waist-deep (but preferably chest-deep) for maximum benefits. If the water is too shallow, it can mean that you won’t get enough resistance, and the exercise won’t be as beneficial.
Water walking can be performed in any body of water, which makes it a super versatile exercise. Though most people prefer a swimming pool for water walking, some people will do it anywhere. Picture your idyllic beach vacation. You probably aren’t thinking about hitting the gym every day. But hey, taking a break from drinking fresh coconut water under a palm tree to walk in the water doesn’t sound half bad!
What Are the Benefits of Water Walking?
As you can probably imagine, water walking is fantastic for your overall health. Here are some benefits that you can expect to see if you start to incorporate water walking into your exercise routine.
1. It’s Low Impact
If you are suffering from arthritis, this is definitely the workout for you! There are so many reasons why working out in water is superior to exercising on dry land, but for those with sore joints, this one is the most relevant. You can break a sweat without the pain.
2. You Can Get a Great Cardio Burn
Not only is this a low-impact exercise, but it is also a great cardiovascular workout. Trust us, you’ll be feeling the burn, even if on the surface it doesn’t look like you’re doing all that much. Get that heart rate up and burn some calories!
3. Lower Your Blood Pressure
According to a 2011 study that compared women who walked on land to women who walked in the water, water walking can not only provide a better workout but may also help hypotensive patients to lower their blood pressure. It could be the combination of exercise with the calming aspect of the water.
4. Improve Your Balance
There’s no doubt about it: walking in water requires not only more effort than walking on land but also more balance and skill. You may falter a little at first, but you can rest assured that you will improve your stability and balance after a few weeks.
5. Heated Pools Can Actually Soothe Pain
Obviously, the gravity-defying nature of water is easy on the joints. But what you may not have thought of is the fact that a nice warm pool will actually relieve pain, not just prevent it. A nice warm pool, from 80-82 degrees, is the perfect temperature to soothe tired, achy joints.
6. There Are Many Variations
If you’re thinking that simply walking through water sounds boring, well … you’re right. Luckily, there are so many variations to water walking that you are sure to find a combination of skills that will fit your needs and keep your muscles guessing.
What Are Some Different Water Walking Variations?
You don’t have to settle for simply walking back and forth in the pool. Here are some variations to try, and some other water exercises that will challenge you. Grab your swim gear and let’s go!
Try walking forward, backward, and sideways. In doing so, you will be using a variety of different muscle groups as you move around the pool. We recommend using time instead of distance if you are in a body of water that’s not a pool. Try one minute in each direction, pause for a 30-second rest, and then do two more sets before moving on to a new exercise.
Feel the Need for Speed!
Still not feeling challenged enough? Try increasing your speed. Even if jogging is too challenging for you to do on land, you might find that it is completely feasible in the water. Start by working in intervals: Do one minute of walking and 30 seconds of jogging, then take a 30-second rest. Repeat this. You can slowly start working your way up to longer jogging intervals.
Do Some Walking Lunges
For this, you will need to make sure the water isn’t too deep. Waist height is probably best for this exercise. For walking lunges, simply kick one leg out in front of you, take a long stride (not too long), and lunge as low as you can comfortably. Walk either a designated number of steps or a designated distance.
Walking With Balance
A nice exercise to try if you’re working to improve your balance is to take a few steps and then pause, doing a balance on one leg. Visualize the flamingo. That is your goal! You might try taking five steps, then doing a 10-second single-leg balance. Then try five more steps, and balance on the other leg. For an added challenge, ditch the flamingo look and try holding a straight leg parallel out in front of you.
Looking to shake it up and try a different water exercise? Move it into the deep end! If you’re a beginner you want to stay close enough to the shallow end that you could feasibly get to a place where you could stand fairly quickly if you begin to struggle. Once you are deep enough, tread the water and imagine that you are bicycling through the water.
How Can I Work Water Walking Into My Exercise Routine?
If you are already engaged in another exercise routine, you may be wondering how you can add water walking or another water exercise to your daily routine without getting overwhelmed. Rather than thinking about adding, you might think about replacing.
Gym snobs might wonder how a “simple” water exercise routine could replace the free weights and treadmills at the gym. All we have to say is: give it a try! Start by replacing one workout per week. Just once a week, grab your swimsuit instead of your gym shorts. You won’t be disappointed with the results.
For a start, you might want to try just replacing the cardio aspects of your workout routine with water walking. As you continue to progress, you might even end up incorporating foam dumbbells into your workout, and you will have come full circle!
If you have never tried water walking, now is the time! As we move into the cooler months, the warm water of an indoor pool can be a welcome relief to your joints. The cardiovascular benefits, lower blood pressure, and improved balance is well worth the effort!