Not Your Mother’s Aqua Aerobics Class
You have likely seen the Aquatic Aerobics class in the pool on Monday nights. The participants look like they are having a “Grand Old Time” with lots of props and toys. They gracefully float across the water for 60 min with apparent ease and not a care in the world. It never actually occurred to me that they were getting a killer workout ….until I joined them for a class just recently.
I, as many Americans, suffer from episodic flare ups of low back pain. Every once in a while I can tweak my back after lifting something a little too heavy for sitting for a little too long in the plane. As an orthopedic physical therapist, I know the theoretical benefits of exercising in the water. However, I had never felt the true benefits myself. So when I had my most recent flare up, I decided to do something different…..put on a bathing suit.
Once I got over my initial embarrassment of donning a bathing suit, walking through the gym, and putting on an “ever so flattering” buoyancy belt……I realized that you can get an incredible low impact cardiovascular workout in the pool without even breaking a sweat! For someone who can easily use an elliptical for 45 min, I was amazed at how tired I was after just the first 5 min.
Here is what makes this aquatic aerobics class something to get excited about:
1) Interval Training – The recent fitness literature has found that one of the best ways to challenge the cardiovascular system is to train at a max level for short intervals. This class will push you to a maximum level of cardiovascular output for 2-3 min intervals with a 30 sec recovery.
2) Full Range of Movement – Most people challenge their muscles in the middle range and avoid the end of the range, leaving their muscles vulnerable to injury. This class challenges you to work against the water at end ranges of movement in your chest, arms and thighs. This is a great way to get more exercise for your buck
3) Resistance Training – Water is 12 times more resistant than air!!! This means that you will be able to build strength and power in the pool. All of the current fitness literature points at an exercise routine that has aspects of resistance training and cardiovascular fitness together.
4) Core Stability – It really is all about your core! Most recent studies focused on exercise performance have found that having good coordination of the trunk muscles is one factor in injury prevention in athletes. The resistive properties of the water force the participant to engage their core for the entire class!
So the next time that you see the water aerobic class in session…..think about joining it yourself. You just might be surprised how good of a workout you will get!