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Water Aerobics: Low-Impact Exercise for All Fitness Levels

For individuals living with chronic pain and various diseases like Parkinson’s, arthritis, and diabetes, can water aerobics be beneficial?

Water Aerobics: Low-Impact Exercise for All Fitness Levels

Water Aerobics

Water aerobics are low-impact exercises performed commonly in swimming pools. It is a great way to exercise for a full-body, low-impact workout without overworking the body’s joints and muscles. Other names used include:

  • Aquafitness
  • Aqua aerobics
  • Aquarobics

Many types can be tailored to individual needs, injuries, and/or conditions. The exercises have various health benefits, especially for those who cannot perform higher-impact movements.

How It Works

Water aerobics involves performing certain controlled movements as a form of exercise. Different types focus on various areas of health, including (Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School, 2023)

  • Strength training
  • Cardiovascular
  • Interval training

Individuals can also perform water aerobics if they know the movements involved. (Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School, 2023)

Benefits of Pool Exercises

There are many benefits associated with water aerobics.

Because of the low-impact and full-body nature of the exercises, people can expect to see improvements (Pereira Neiva, H. et al., 2018) (Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School, 2023)

Joint health

  • Water aerobics is gentle on the joints with minimal strain.

Cardiovascular

  • Water resistance during exercises can improve cardiovascular health without pushing it.
  • Studies have shown that it can also help control blood pressure.

Strength

  • Because of the resistance from the water, the muscles work harder.

Weight Loss

  • The water resistance exercises burn more calories than those outside the water, which could lead to more weight loss over time.

Health Conditions That Can Benefit

Some of the health conditions that can benefit from water aerobics include (Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School, 2023)

  • Chronic pain
  • Arthritis
  • Obesity
  • Heart health
  • Blood pressure
  • Stress and Anxiety

Equipment

Individuals participating in water aerobics will need a bathing suit, towel, goggles, and a swim cap to protect their eyes or hair from chlorinated water. Individuals do not need other special equipment while exercising as the water acts as extra resistance. Foam dumbbells or paddles can be used to increase resistance. Other optional equipment includes: (Plunge San Diego, 2024) (Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School, 2023)

  • Kickboards
  • Wrist and ankle weights
  • Water-jogging belts
  • Swim bar

Pool Exercises

There are many types of pool exercises to help reach health and fitness goals. They include:

Water Walking

  • The basic act of walking in water is a great way to get a full-body workout.
  • Start by standing in waist-deep water with the feet planted on the bottom of the pool.
  • Lengthen the spine by bringing the shoulders up and back and aligning the shoulders with the hips and knees.
  • Once in a good starting position, walk through the water, putting pressure on the heel first and then the toes, just like walking out of the water, while swinging the arms back and forth through the water.
  • This exercise can be done for five to 10 minutes.
  • The muscles that will get the most attention are the arms, core, and the lower body.

Arm Lifts

  • Stand up to the shoulders in water.
  • With the palms facing up, draw the elbows into the torso while lifting the forearms in front of the body up to the water’s surface.
  • Once at the surface, rotate the palms to face down and slowly move the forearms back down to the sides.
  • For more resistance, this exercise can also be done using foam dumbbells.
  • Repeat the action 10–15 times for one to three sets.
  • The muscles targeted are the core and the arm muscles.

Jumping Jacks

  • Water resistance makes jumping jacks in the water much more difficult than on land.
  • To perform, start by standing in chest-level water with your feet together and your arms straight down the sides.
  • Once in position, begin by simultaneously swinging the legs out to the side and arms over the head before returning to the starting position.
  • Muscles targeted include the entire body and cardiovascular system.
  • Add wrist or ankle weights for more resistance and to make the exercise more challenging.

High-Knee-Lift Extensions

  • High-knee-lift extensions are performed while standing in water that is waist deep.
  • To do the exercise, engage the core and lift one leg in a bent position until it is level with the water’s surface.
  • Hold the position for a few seconds, then extend the leg out in front and hold again.
  • After the hold period, move the leg back down through the water to the starting position while keeping it straight and flexing the foot.
  • Repeat on both legs for two to three sets of 15 reps per leg.
  • Use weights on the ankles to increase resistance.
  • The muscles targeted include the core, glutes, and lower body.

Risks

While exercising in water, individuals may not notice how much they sweat. This can make it seem like the workout is not as hard and can lead to dehydration. Individuals should always hydrate before and after a pool workout. Individuals who cannot swim well should avoid exercises that do not require a flotation device. Sometimes pools are heated, so choosing one 90 degrees F or below is recommended so the body doesn’t get overheated while exercising.

Stop Pool Exercises Immediately

Performing pool exercises can often seem easier than they are, leading to overworking. Stop exercising immediately if you feel:

  • Pain in any area of the body
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nauseated
  • Faint
  • Dizzy
  • Pressure in the upper body or chest

Other Health Conditions That Benefit

Water aerobics is recommended for most individuals, completely healthy or with a chronic disease. Those with chronic disease have been shown to benefit from the low-impact exercise. (Faíl, L. B. et al., 2022) One study looked at individuals with various health conditions, with the results showing that the following conditions saw improvements after 12 weeks of regular water exercise (Faíl, L. B. et al., 2022)

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Bone diseases
  • High blood pressure
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Stroke
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Parkinson’s disease

While the benefits of water aerobics have been studied and proven effective, individuals should be cleared by a medical professional before starting any new exercise regimen. Injury Medical Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Clinic works with primary healthcare providers and specialists to develop an optimal health and wellness solution through an integrated approach to treating injuries and chronic pain syndromes, improving flexibility, mobility, and agility programs to relieve pain and help individuals return to normal. Our providers create personalized care plans for each patient. If other treatments are needed, Dr. Jimenez has teamed up with top surgeons, clinical specialists, medical researchers, and rehabilitation providers to provide the most effective treatments.


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References

Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School. (2023). Basic types of water-based exercises. HealthBeat. www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/basic-types-of-water-based-exercise

Pereira Neiva, H., Brandão Faíl, L., Izquierdo, M., Marques, M. C., & Marinho, D. A. (2018). The effect of 12 weeks of water-aerobics on health status and physical fitness: An ecological approach. PloS one, 13(5), e0198319. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0198319

Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School. (2024). Advantages of water-based exercise. HealthBeat. www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/advantages-of-water-based-exercise

Plunge San Diego. (2024). 5 must-have pieces of aquatic exercise equipment for water aerobics. Plunge San Diego. plungesandiego.com/what-equipment-needed-water-aerobics-shoes/

Faíl, L. B., Marinho, D. A., Marques, E. A., Costa, M. J., Santos, C. C., Marques, M. C., Izquierdo, M., & Neiva, H. P. (2022). Benefits of aquatic exercise in adults with and without chronic disease-A systematic review with meta-analysis. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 32(3), 465–486. doi.org/10.1111/sms.14112

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Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Water Aerobics: Low-Impact Exercise for All Fitness Levels" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Blog Information & Scope Discussions

Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

We are here to help you and your family.

Blessings

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

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Disclaimer *

The information herein is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional. Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.* Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

phone: 915-850-0900

Licensed in Texas & New Mexico *

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM, IFMCP, ATN, CCST
My Digital Business Card

Post Disclaimer

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Managing Neurogenic Claudication: Effective Treatment Options" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Blog Information & Scope Discussions

Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

We are here to help you and your family.

Blessings

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

Licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN*) in Florida
Florida License RN License # RN9617241 (Control No. 3558029)
Compact Status: Multi-State License: Authorized to Practice in 40 States*

Presently Matriculated: ICHS: MSN* FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner Program)

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
My Digital Business Card