Just like swimming, water aerobics builds muscle strength and endurance, and improves cardiovascular fitness. Referred to as Aqua Fitness, or Aqua Aerobics in some regions, water aerobics is the performance of strength and cardio exercises in water. Although they can be done in any type of water, a pool provides more safety and control.
No exercise is perfect for everyone, but water aerobics comes close because it is so flexible to individual needs, restrictions and abilities. You can also easily add difficulty to your routine by adjusting the size and speed of your movements, adding weights or aquatic gloves or working in deeper water.
Water aerobics differs from swimming in a few key areas:
A person does not have to know how to swim in order to take advantage of water aerobics. Unless you get into more advanced levels, you’ll spend most of your time in shallow water.
It’s a bit easier because you don’t have to time breathing with arm strokes, as in swimming.
You may use a few specialty devices: foam noodles or tubes, foam dumb bells, aqua gloves and flotation belts.
Like swimming, water aerobics has the following benefits:
- Uses all the major muscle groups.
- Provides an excellent cardiovascular workout.
- Develops muscle strength, endurance and flexibility.
- An excellent activity for people who are overweight, pregnant, or have leg or lower back problems.
- Provides most of the aerobic benefits of running, with many of the benefits of resistance training.
- Does not strain connective tissues that running, aerobics and some weight-training regimens do.
- Aqua aerobics can help you burn between 450 and 700 calories during an hour-long workout.
Walking and Jogging
Both shallow and deep water walking and jogging are effective aerobic workouts that build calf quadriceps, hamstrings and glute strength, as well as develop cardio- respiratory fitness. The added resistance of the water increases the rate of calorie burn. The Mayo Clinic estimates that an hour of water aerobic walking or jogging burns approximately 120 calories more than land walking.
Easy workout – stick to shallow water and travel from one side of the pool to the other.
Harder workout – try deep water walking or jogging by straddling a noodle or using a water aerobics flotation belt for slight support and travel from one side of the pool to the other. Move your legs and arms as if you were walking on land.
Upper body exercises elevate your heart rate and build strength in the arms, back and chest. Upper body aerobics may include the use of webbed gloves or specially designed water weights. Water aerobic exercises are usually variations on standard exercises like shoulder presses and bicep curls with a pair of water weights to increase the resistance of the movements.
Jumping jacks in the water are less jarring than those done on land. You raise the heart rate and build stamina while working the arms and outer thighs. Shoot for three sets of eight to 10 repetitions.
Lower Body Activities
Water aerobic activities for the lower body builds lower back and leg strength, and improves balance and flexibility.
Underwater leg lifts build muscle in the front of the thigh. Use the side of the pool, if necessary, and gradually move away from the wall and into deeper water.
Perform alternating kicks front and back. Do each exercise for a minute at a time.
Water squats will work the inner thighs. Stand with your feet apart and feet turned out. Place hands on hips and slowly lower and raise the body. Do three sets of eight to 10 repetitions.
For added intensity hold hand weights and do bicep curls as you lift your body.
Safety Tips for people with diabetes
Carry Medical Alert ID. Sometimes seconds can make the difference in a life and death situation and you want emergency professionals to know your status.
Carry Contact Information. In addition to emergency contact information also carry the name and number of your primary care physician. Also, be sure to carry your medical insurance card and emergency number for your medical insurance company.
Always Carry Your Meds and Testing Supplies with You. It may seem a bit extreme, but it is important for you to test before and after you exercise. A pre-exercise glucose range of 140 – 250 mg/dl is considered acceptable. If it is less than 70 mg/dL, treat the low, and wait to exercise for a few hours. If it is 71-100 mg/dL, have a snack.
*If you have type 1 and your glucose is above 250 mg/dL, check for ketones and only exercise if your ketones are negative.
*If you have type 2 and feel well, you can exercise with glucose less than 300 mg/dL.
Have a Quick Source of Carbs Handy. Keep a waterproof source of quick carbohydrates with you near the pool in case you need it in a hurry.
Drink Plenty of Water. Be sure to hydrate with water before, during (if necessary) and after class. Because you don’t heat up the same way during a water aerobics workout as you do in workouts out of the water, you can underestimate the level of dehydration.
Shower Afterwards. Most pools are chlorinated, which can dry or damage delicate diabetic skin. So, it’s essential to shower after exercising and to use a moisturizing lotion.
Always Have A Buddy. Do water aerobics under the supervision of an instructor or have a buddy with you at all times.