If you are a water person and love swimming but don't feel that you have sufficient motivation to go to the pool regularly by yourself, why not try an aqua aerobic class?
Classes may be called aquafit, water fun, or watergym and even if not combined with a swim, offer good all round exercise. Although you may not burn as many calories as you do on a treadmill, swimming is a lot less taxing on the joints. This makes it a very good exercise choice for older or overweight people, or for those recovering from injury.
If you are slowly getting back into exercise this is a fun and safe way to do it.
Who Can Do It?
As the water supports your weight, it is often easier for people who are heavy due to the buoyancy given by the water since you can move much more easily than on land. For pregnant women, as long as they have their doctor's approval, water exercise can be a great way to stay fit as pregnancy progresses. It's also good for people suffering from arthritis and sports injuries. In fact, a lot of physiotherapy is offered in very warm hydrotherapy pools.
From simple leg kicking exercises holding on to the poolside in the shallow end to deepwater exercises using weights and flotation devices, classes can suit all ages, levels of fitness and abilities.
You don't even have to be able to swim to join many classes, as they just use the shallow end of the pool.
What Are The Benefits?
Just as swimming is a good cardio-vascular exercise and tones the body, aqua aerobics gives the same benefits and is enjoyable because you can exercise in a group. You can also have fun doing exercises you can't do on land.
Working out in the water increases flexibility, builds muscle strength and allows you to have a more vigorous exercise session without putting pressure on painful joints. The water itself increases the resistance level of the exercise and if you also use dumb bells, other weights, or floatation devices, you can increase the resistance even more. The exercises can often improve your swimming technique as you get more confident in the water.
If you are already a good swimmer, you may prefer working out in a deep-water class. People suffering from back pain often start with gentle exercise in deep water, getting support for their neck and shoulders, gradually moving into shallower water as they get stronger and fitter. Floating in the water is also very soothing and meditative; many people feel spiritually and emotionally refreshed after their water work out.
What To Look Out For
Check that your teacher is not only properly qualified but also works out at a pace to suit you. Water temperature is also very important. For an intense workout a water temperature of 26-28C (78-82F) is recommended, whereas for a more gentle exercise routine, like for someone with arthritis, a water temperature of 32-35C (89-95F) is preferred.