A new way to stay fit at any age
As a large number of Baby Boomers get older and approach retirement, they are looking for new ways to stay fit and active without injuring their bodies. Amongst the fitness activities available, a relatively new exercise has emerged which is particularly suited to the older population. This type of exercise has a few different names but is best known as Aquafit or Aquafitness.
As the name implies, aquafitness is fitness or exercise that takes place in the water, typically in a pool. Unlike swimming where the participant is in a horizontal position, performing different kinds of strokes, aquafitness takes place in a vertical position, both in shallow or deep water, including moves such as jumping jacks and jogging. This allows the participants to either stand on the pool floor or be suspended with a flotation belt in deep water.
They would do most of the exercises as if they are on land but with added resistance from the water around them. “It is important to keep in mind that because of the properties of water, the exercises will target the muscle groups in a different way than on land,” says Ioana Grant of To Wellness. For example, when you jog in the water, the resistance will engage the whole body, whereas on land, jogging primarily targets the lower body.
One of the most important benefits of aquafitness is the reduced impact on lower body joints. Due to the buoyancy effect of being in the water, the body weight is reduced by at least 80%. The resulting effect is the water “lifting” most of the body weight off of joints such as knees and ankles. With the stress off the joints, participants are able to take part in a fitness program that may have been too painful or too strenuous on land.
For the reason described above aquafit classes are becoming popular with the elderly and people who are doing physical rehabilitation for sports or motor vehicular injuries. That being said, there are many benefits to these aquatic exercises that appeal to everyone. Therefore, many more men and women have become aware of this incredible fitness program.
Ability to exercise longer and harder
Due to the force of the water on the body, the body pumps blood more efficiently, thus increasing the ability to exercise for longer periods of time at a higher intensity.
Many ways to enjoy this new medium
In swimming, there are various strokes such as freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly. Swimmers do not get bored of swimming because there are so many options for the strokes in a workout. In the same way, there are a variety of classes being created to ensure that the options in aquafit are fluid and not stagnant. Some example classes include: shallow water, deep water, aqua yoga, aqua tai chi and aqua cycling. There are also classes with equipment such as floatation devices or noodles.
Body heat regulator
Doing a class in the pool on a hot summer’s day is a great way to exercise without overheating. Water removes excess heat from the body and therefore it is a great body heat regulator.
A full body workout
In many classes, the participant is up to their neck in water, which means that almost the entire body is submerged. Any movement under the water will work the body against the resistance of the water. The resistance can be up to 12 times that of air so you can work out a great deal of the muscles in your body.
Some people may stay away from aquafit because they assume they must know how to swim in order to participate. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the good news is that this is not the case! Non-swimmers can enjoy shallow water classes where they are standing in chest deep water without getting their face or hair wet. They can also learn how to float vertically in the water using a noodle and/or a floatation belt around their waist.
These are just some of the benefits to this fitness program. If you have never tried water exercise, consider contacting your local pool or community center to see if they offer Aquafitness classes and give it a try.
Water you waiting for?