What do you like to do in the swimming pool? Do you prefer to swim laps or do you just like to get in and relax? I like to swim laps and relax. I also enjoy doing what I like to call vertical water exercises.
There’s a variety of vertical water exercises that can benefit many types of conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, back pain, joint replacements and balance issues. Here are a few tips to help you get started with pool exercises.
Wear water shoes. Water shoes will help provide traction since some pool floors can be slippery.
Water level. Try to keep the water level at your waist or up to your chest (unless you’re doing deep water exercise).
Use floats. Use a Styrofoam noodle or floatation belt/vest to keep you afloat in deeper water.
Movement tempo. Slower movements in the water will provide less resistance than faster movements.
Increase resistance. You can use webbed gloves, inflated balls, kickboards or Styrofoam weights to increase resistance.
Monitor your pain. Never push your body through pain during any exercise.
Hydrate. You may not realize you’re sweating while exercising in the water so it’s important to drink plenty of water before, during and after your water exercise routine.
The older I get the more I like water exercise because it makes me feel good while exercising and after exercise. Water can provide an ideal environment for year-round exercise opportunities. Water is naturally buoyant and this buoyancy can help support our body weight, which makes it easier to move in the water. Water buoyancy can also help increase our flexibility. A flexible body is less prone to injury.
The water also provides resistance to movement, which helps strengthen our muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones. Every movement direction we make in the water has resistance benefits. For example, when we sidestep in the water, we’re moving against the force of water and our side body muscles are being strengthened. The same is true when walking or jogging forwards or backwards in the water, our front and back muscles are being strengthened. The water can also improve our agility (the ability to move quickly and easily), balance and aerobic (cardiovascular) ability.
Give water exercise a try. Even if you don’t like lap swimming, there’s a lot of other vertical movements you can do in the water. The water environment offers the complete package of fitness: endurance, strength, balance and flexibility.
Enjoy the water this summer and throughout the year. Here’s to your great health.
Jonathan Souder is the Fitness Director at Manor House, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Seaford, Delaware. This column appeared in the August 17, 2017 edition of the Seaford Star.