Welcome guest blogger Becky Flanigan! She is going to give us some info on a great alternative exercise you may have never tried before – aqua aerobics!
I was working out at the gym a while back and tweaked my knee on the leg press. It kept bothering me, so I checked it out with my doctor. He said it didn’t look like anything major, but recommended that I stay away from impact on the knee for a while. How was I going to do that and keep in shape?
That’s when I discovered aqua aerobics. A couple of my runner friends who had suffered injuries, mostly to their knees, had talked about aqua aerobics to keep in shape while they recovered. I’d never paid much attention, but since I needed a similar solution, I checked it out. My main concern was whether it would really give me an effective workout. Boy, did it!
Aqua jogging. I talked to my runner buddies, and most of them stayed with aqua jogging, so I started with that. My gym has an indoor pool with lap lanes, so I wore old sneakers because the bottom of the pool could be rough. I stood in chest deep water, and took off with a jogging motion. After a couple of laps, I was surprised at how hard I was breathing. It was like I was actually running, and I could feel that my heart rate was elevated. After half a mile, I could really feel my legs, and my earlier decision to “run a couple of miles in the pool” had to be scaled back – a mile in the water now felt like a very reasonable goal for a first attempt. My runner friends had told me they didn’t run for 3 months while the injury healed, and with aqua jogging, didn’t lose any fitness. Now I understood why.
Keep hydrated and burn calories. I had also been told that aqua jogging could fool you on how much you sweated, so I kept a water bottle at one end of the pool, and drank after each lap down and back. I was so glad I did that, because it actually felt like I was sweating some, a bizarre effect when I was chest deep in the water. One article said that you could expect to burn between 400 and 500 calories per hour, depending on how intensely you moved through the water. I could definitely believe that.
Lots of options for aqua aerobics. After the first couple of times aqua jogging, I decided to branch out. I found out my gym a lot of aqua aerobics classes – step classes, zumba workouts (in the water might be the only way I would try those sexy moves), kick boxing, tai chi and yoga. I sometimes feel awkward with those workouts, but in the pool, if I mess up, I don’t fall on my butt or embarrass myself. No one can see the slipup, and the water is great to help cushion a fall.
Water tai chi is fun. I didn’t want to really push my knee for the time being, so I tried tai chi. Before I joined the class, the instructor said this wasn’t a loud talking and enthusiastic group – the focus was on the peaceful and calming effects of the sport, so the class would work out in quiet. She said the aerobic benefit of tai chi was really enhanced by the water resistance, so we wanted to concentrate on doing the movements slowly, but with a little force behind it. I didn’t quite understand that part until we got in the water. Doing a slow step forward took some effort with the resistance of the water, and as I followed along with the exercise pattern, my breathing elevated almost as much as when I was aqua jogging. By the end of the class, I knew I had just gotten a solid workout.
Yes, I’ve become a devotee of aqua aerobics. The resistance offered by water made me a believer about how effective water exercise can be. Wish me luck – next week I’m going to try aqua zumba. I have to – I already told my husband I would, and he’s holding me to it. There are lots of choices when it comes to aqua aerobics, and based on my experience, all of them will yield a great workout.
Becky Flanigan was an English major in college, and now enjoys writing freelance articles about pool exercise and supplies for InTheSwim.com. Becky has a great time on family weekend trips with her husband, 3 kids, and 2 golden retrievers. She spends many happy hours at the family swimming pool, watching the kids and dogs splash around. She is also an avid gardener – and even helps friends landscape and decorate their yards.