How Water Workouts Ward Off Pain

Aqua aerobics has long been recognized for its exercise benefits.

The water creates about 12 times the resistance of out-of-water exercise, which helps build strength fast, says aquatic aerobics instructor Linda Gardner.

It also reduces impact, meaning no jarring or pounding on joints and bones. It can be done by seniors, children and anyone in between, including people with physical limitations.

Plus, Gardner says, "Exercising in the water is a great stress-reliever. The water massages the body and relaxes you as you exercise."

Many fitness and aquatics centers offer various aqua aerobics classes. But you can also put together a water workout on your own.

Most exercises can be adapted to the water, especially with the help of equipment that adds resistance or helps you float, and they can be done in shallow or deep water.

"Shallow-water classes use kickboards and buoys for the post-aerobics toning," said aquatic aerobics instructor Sherrie Rheingans. "Deep-water classes have AquaJogger belts and hand weights."

Water classes are also often used as therapy.

Vicki Blackburn teaches a class for people with rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue and various other ailments.

"It's also a good social thing, because a lot of people with pain don't tend to go out and socialize," Blackburn says.

Create Your Own Aqua Aerobics Workout

Sherrie Rheingans suggests a five- to 10-minute warm-up, 25 minutes of aerobics, 20 minutes of toning with boards and buoys, and a five- to 10-minute cool-down. Here are sample exercises to get you started on your own: Warm-up/cool-down exercises (think yoga in the pool):

* Interlock your fingers and stretch your arms up, leaning to both sides.

* Stretch your neck by looking up, down and to either side.

* Roll your shoulders forward and backward.

* Bring each knee up to your chest, flex your foot and rotate your ankle.

* Do underwater lunges.

Aerobic Exercises:

* Jog (stationary) underwater, bringing your knees high and landing flat-footed.

* Lift each foot forward, touching it to the opposite hand, and switch back and forth. Repeat behind you.

* "Cross-country skiing": Take a long stride forward with one leg while pulling the opposite arm back underwater.

* "Sprints": Stationary run while pumping your arms in the air, like punching the sky.

Toning Exercises:

With a board under each arm (shoulders at 90-degree angle with body), place a buoy between your thighs and float with your weight on the boards.

* Bring knees up and down underwater, flexing your abs.

* Knees still bent, pull your lower body from side to side through water.

* Remove the buoy, make an "L" at your waist, and open and close your straightened legs.

Source: The Record. Powered by Yellowbrix.
How Water Workouts Ward Off Pain -- ThirdAge