Water aerobics (waterobics, aquatic fitness, aquafitness, aquafit) is the performance of aerobic exercise in fairly shallow water such as in a swimming pool. Done mostly vertically and without swimming typically in waist deep or deeper water, it is a type of resistance training. Water aerobics is a form of aerobic exercise that requires water-immersed participants. Most water aerobics is in a group fitness class setting with a trained professional teaching for about an hour. The classes focus on aerobic endurance, resistance training, and creating an enjoyable atmosphere with music. Different forms of water aerobics include: aqua Zumba, water yoga, aqua aerobics, and aqua jog.
Variation from Land-Based Aerobics
While similar to land aerobics, in that it focuses on cardiac training, water aerobics differs in that it adds the component of water resistance and buoyancy. Although heart rate does not increase as much as in land-based aerobics, the heart is working just as hard and underwater exercise actually pumps more blood to the heart. Exercising in the water is not only aerobic, but also strength-training oriented due to the water resistance. Moving your body through the water creates a resistance that will activate muscle groups.
Variation of Format
New aquatic formats are arising into the exercise world with ideas such as: water cycling and water pole dancing. Water aerobics is beneficial to a multitude of participants because the density of the water allows easy mobility for those with arthritis, obesity, and other conditions. However it is an effective way for people of all ages to incorporate aerobics and muscle-strengthening into their weekly exercise schedule. Most classes last for 45–55 minutes. Another benefit is that people do not even have to be strong swimmers to participate in water aerobics.
Most land-based aerobic exercisers don’t incorporate strength training into their schedules and therefore adding aquatic exercise can greatly improve their health. As stated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2008), “Adults should also [in addition to aerobic exercise] do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.” Over time water aerobics can lead to a reduction of blood pressure and resting heart rate, which will improve health overall.
According to Moreno (1996) and her quotes from Huey an Olympic athlete trainer, the benefits of water resistance training include the activation of opposing muscle groups for a balanced workout. The push and pull of the water allows both increased muscle training and a built-in safety barrier for joints. In fact, before water aerobics water, injury therapy used the benefits of water. The water also helps to reduce lactic acid buildup. Another obvious benefit to water exercise is the cooling effect of the water on the system. The average temperature around 78 degrees in a group fitness pool, this temperature will force the body to burn calories to stay at homeostasis while also maintaining a cool, comfortable atmosphere with less sweat noticeable to the participant.
Benefits for the Elderly
The mitigation of gravity makes water aerobics safe for individuals able to keep their heads out of water, including the elderly. Exercise in water can also prevent overheating through continuous cooling of the body. Older people are more prone to arthritis, osteoporosis, and weak joints therefore water aerobics is the safest form of exercise for these conditions. Research studies can teach us about the benefits the elderly can receive by participating in water aerobics. In a study done in Brazil, “Effects of water-based exercise in obese older women: Impact of short-term follow-up study on anthropometric, functional fitness and quality of life parameters” the effects of long-term water aerobics was tested. Although it did not conclude exactly as planned, their test subjects did experience improved aerobic capacity, muscle endurance, and better overall life quality. The water also provides a stable environment for elderly with less balance control and therefore prevents injury.
Water aerobics has a few disadvantages from a practicality standpoint. Aqua aerobics requires access to a swimming pool via facilities, and in addition to any membership fees to access facilities, classes may cost extra. Although aquatic exercise greatly reduces the risk of injury, it is typically seen that not as many calories are burned as would be in some other activities. However, newer research on actual caloric burn should be conducted based on the style of water class being conducted. Though aquatic activities in general expend more energy than many land-based activities performed at the same pace due to the increased resistance of water, the speed with which movements can be performed is greatly reduced. If a club or hotel wants to incorporate aquatic classes they must prepare for weather conditions, stereo malfunction, and a proper safety precautions. Licensed instructors also prefer a facility that can pay well for their high intensity workout (instructors do not get the anti-gravity benefits of the water) and they may need mats or expensive shoe-wear to protect their own bodies.
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- Aquajogging, a similar program for surgical patients
- Moreno, B. (1996). "Making a Splash". ebscohost.com. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- White, Martha (1995). Water exercise. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. ISBN 0-87322-726-3.
- Piotrowska-Calka, E.E. (2010). "EFFECTS OF A 24-WEEK DEEP WATER AEROBIC TRAINING PROGRAM ON CARDIOVASCULAR FITNESS.". Biology of Sport. Retrieved 2013-11-10.
- Duxbury, Andrew (2006-02-28). "Water Fitness". About.com. Retrieved 2008-01-07.
- Rica, R. (2013). "Effects of water-based exercise in obese older women: Impact of short-term follow-up study on anthropometric, functional fitness and quality of life parameters". Geriatrics & Gerontology International, 13(1). Retrieved 2013-11-21.
- "Calories Burned During Exercise". nutristrategy.com. 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-07.
- Mayo Clinic slide show with illustrative pictures
- Canadian Aquafitness Leader Alliance
- *Aqua Exercises for all muscle groups with animated display