As we age, many of us find it difficult to establish and maintain an exercise routine. Staying fit can keep you healthy and improve your quality of life. Whether you’re an athlete recovering from an injury, or someone concerned about the risks of falls or joint damage as a result of exercise, water aerobics might be a great alternative to keep you active and moving.

What Is Water Aerobics?

In a water aerobics class, participants work out in a swimming pool. The activity is usually done in water that is shoulder deep or less, so you do not have to be a skilled swimmer to participate. Most classes last about 45 to 60 minutes with an instructor leading the class in calisthenics or a variety of traditional aerobics exercises.

Why You Should Get In The Water

Jogging, traditional aerobics classes and similar high-impact exercises can be hard on your joints. Every time your feet hit the ground, it can strain the joints, especially for those with conditions such as arthritis. When working out in the water, much of your weight is supported by the water and the buoyancy cushions your joints. The resistance of the water also keeps you from moving your joints too fast, which can lead to injuries.

The resistance conditioning helps strengthen the muscles and joints, as well as improving balance, mobility and range of motion. The cardiovascular exercise reduces the risk for circulatory problems and heart disease. It also burns fat and even has mental health benefits.

Who Should Participate

Water aerobics can improve your general fitness, but it especially helps people who are aging or suffer from chronic health problems which make exercising difficult. Seniors, those who are physically challenged, and individuals in fragile health also worry about falls when exercising. If you are experiencing balance or vision problems, some forms of exercise may be scary. But when you exercise in the water, the buoyancy effect holds you up and protects you from falls. If you feel insecure, you can use pool noodles, a flotation belt, or even the edge of the pool. Cradled in the water, you can make larger movements. If you do become off-balance, injuries are unlikely. You feel safer because you are safer.

Other Benefits

If weight loss is a concern, the Aquatic Exercise Association says that water aerobics class participants commonly burn approximately 400 to 500 calories per hour. Actual calories burned depend the intensity of your workout, your body size, and even the water temperature and depth, but when exercising in the water you work against greater resistance than on land and your metabolism will be higher. You will have more energy and less stress.

No matter what your age or fitness level, you can benefit from water aerobics. The exercises can be adapted to suit anyone’s needs. Many people who love the water combine water aerobics classes with traditional swimming. Lap swimming may appear strenuous, but you can set your own pace and type of strokes. You can vary the workouts by using kick boards, wearing flippers, wrist weights or resistance gloves. Lap swimming is generally done in a pool, but if you prefer to swim in a lake, river or ocean, be sure you know how to stay safe in open waters and don’t swim alone.

If you want to rehabilitate damaged joints, strengthen muscles, increase your cardiovascular stamina and improve your mental health, and probably even make some new friends, give a water aerobics class a try. Before beginning a water exercise program, talk with your doctor to determine if this form of exercise is right for you.