Tap Into Health: Remix summer with aquatic exercise | SteamboatToday.com

Tap Into Health: Remix summer with aquatic exercise

Holly Harris
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

In the dog days of summer, it is challenging to fit in a workout without braving sweltering heat. Besides exercising in the brisk hours of the morning, why don’t you give aquatic exercise a try? It is a phenomenal workout with the bonus of staying refreshed in the water. Water fitness builds cardio, strength and resistance all while being easy on the joints and in a cool and relaxing atmosphere.

For people who suffer from joint problems, hydrotherapy is the ideal form of therapy. The water’s buoyancy helps your body to move more freely, and this helps to protect your joints from the weight of your body and the pressure of movement. The hydrostatic pressure of the water works with your blood, as well, and enables your blood flow to circulate more effectively throughout the body. This decreases blood pressure and in the long run, decreases your resting heart rate. This benefit means your heart is maintaining its productivity while putting less stress on your heart.

If you are looking to build strength, the resistance during water exercise is dynamic; the more strength you use, the higher the resistance. The water creates a higher resistance than air and makes your muscles work harder. Every movement has 360-degree pressure from the water so more muscles are used. Yet being in the water, the body only weighs a sixth of its mass, so movements become easier. Even though your muscles work harder you will not feel a huge increase in resistance.

During aquatic fitness training, the training intensity remains within the optimum range. In addition to the great workout benefits, training remains aerobic — meaning you avoid damaging overexertion. Plus, running in water burns almost double the number of calories than running on land does, with the added benefit of protecting your joints.

Besides all these health and fitness benefits of aquatic exercise, being in the water is a joyful experience. It carries us and gives us a feeling of lightness that helps us forget our extra pounds. And unlike traditional group classes, such as aerobics or dance, aqua fitness classes are noncompetitive. No one can tell if you mess up a move when you’re in the water. Many people find that they can be more focused on the movements when they aren’t worrying about keeping up with everyone else.

There are practically no limits to how you can move in the water: jumping, walking, jogging, boxing, dancing, etc. Here are a few ways to get started with aquatic exercise:

Water Walking: At Old Town Hot Springs, a few of the lap lanes closer to the building are shallower and perfect for walking up and down the lanes.

Deep Water Running: You will need a good waist flotation belt and a deep end of a pool so that your feet are not touching the ground. Once in the water, start simulating a real run by making the same movements you would while running on land.

Aquatic Group Exercise: Join a class today to focus on strength, mobility and fun.

Water Stretching: The buoyancy of the water does not just reduce pressure on joints but also improves flexibility. Balancing is easier so you will be able to stretch in ways you might not always be able to on land.

Besides these activities, do not forget floating. Water has a soothing effect creating a relaxed state of mind. It can lead to deep relaxation or be used for effective and gentle osteopathic techniques, particularly in a treatment with a specialized therapist.

Holly Harris is wellness director at Old Town Hot Springs.

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