Water aerobic exercise

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

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Information from the Arthritis Foundation

Water aerobics is not only an enjoyable way to maintain cardiovascular fitness, but it’s also a great method for toning muscles.

Water aerobics has one distinct advantage: Less impact on the joints. Water exercise helps people with joint problems and other medical conditions to get a good workout without pain and jarring. Water exercises should be done in a warm pool.

Water aerobics is beneficial especially for beginning exercisers, overweight individuals, those who are injury prone, and those who have arthritis. A person does not need to know how to swim in order to take advantage of water aerobic exercises either. Water aerobics are generally performed in water that is up to a person's waist or maybe even up to their chest, depending on the specific exercise they are doing. Jogging in the water, for example, is done in deeper water so that a person's body stays completely emerged.

He or she can wear one of many flotation devices or vests that will enable them to stay afloat with little effort. This is turn enables the person to be able to concentrate on his or her routine. Plus, it helps to eliminate the fear of a mishap in the water, especially in the deep water.

Swimmers are vulnerable to shoulder injuries and so are people with arthritis. So make rotator cuff strengthening part of your training regimen. Do shoulder presses in between water aerobic exercises and swimming.

There are now devices available that you can use for water aerobic exercises in a pool to increase the resistance of the water and provide some strength training. These are good when you´re injured or have sore joints, when you´re traveling and will be near a pool but not a gym, for cross training, or for a change of pace because they´re fun.

Try running in the deep end of a pool, wearing a flotation belt, for a more intense water exercise workout. Use your ordinary upright running style. Deep water running is good for rehab and for athletic training, as you can work hard with no impact. This is different, and more vigorous, than water aerobic exercises, which are generally done in the shallow end.

Swimming is a great exercise for cardiovascular strengthening and general conditioning. However, swimming and water exercise do not qualify as weight bearing, because the water supports you, so it will not strengthen your bones. In your exercise plan, you should include cross training with weight training or other weight-bearing activities to improve bone density to offset swimming and water exercises.

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