You own a pool; why not make the most of it? After a year of virtual workouts and long walks, water exercise will be a refreshing break from your usual fitness routine.  Exercising in water offers a great workout without some of the drawbacks associated with land-based exercises. Water provides resistance, which helps to strengthen muscles. The faster your movements; the greater the resistance.  Water workouts are also easier on the joints, and because you’re already wet, nobody notices when you sweat! Besides, what could be more refreshing than frolicking in cool water while burning calories at the same time? But before starting water workouts or any other exercise program, always check with your physician, just to make sure it’s right for you.

You don’t need much equipment but…

  • Water shoes are essential. They provide traction on the pool floor, which makes staying upright much easier.
  • The water level is typically waist high, but for deeper water use a foam noodle or floatation belt/vest to keep you afloat.
  • Webbed water gloves, Styrofoam weights, inflated balls, or kickboards are ideal for increasing resistance.

Ready to get started?

Try these six exercises to work the major muscle groups in your body

  1. Activate your core and lower body with the back wall glide: Hold onto the pool ledge, tuck your knees into your chest, and, using your feet, push off from the wall and float on your back as far as you can. Then, draw your knees into your chest, press your feet down to the bottom of the pool, and run back to the wall. Do this as many times as you can for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Get that heart pumping with walk or jog in water: Walking in water is a good exercise to start with as it helps you get a feeling for how you can create resistance. Start by walking forward and backward in chest or waist high water. Walk about 10-20 steps forward, then turn and walk backwards. Increase your speed to make it more challenging. Continue for 5 minutes.
  3. Work your core with pool planks. Stand on the pool floor, holding the noodle horizontal in front of you with both hands. Press the noodle down as you lean forward into a plank position, keeping your head out of the water and your feet on the floor. Keep the noodle submerged, and your arms straight, pointing downward toward the pool floor. Hold the position as long as you can, 15-60 seconds depending on your core strength. Repeat 3-5 times.
  4. Increase your endurance and resistance with some deep water running. In deeper water, loop 1-2 noodles around the back of your body and rest your arms on top of the noodle for support in the water. Run forwards, backwards or sideways. Continue for 3-5 minutes.
  5. Get sleek, toned arms with water arm lifts. This exercise will help strengthen the muscles in your arms. Using foam dumbbells will help add more resistance. Stand in water up to your shoulders, and hold the dumbbells submerged at your side, with your palms facing up. Draw your elbows in close to your torso as you lift your forearms to the height of the water. Rotate your wrists to turn your palms facing down. Finally, lower your arms back to the starting position. Do 1-3 sets of 10-15 reps for each exercise.
  6. Step to the side and work those thighs! Face the pool wall and take 10-20 sideways steps in one direction and 10-20 steps back to where you started. Repeat twice.

Water workouts can be a lot of fun, but as with any exercise, it’s important to keep safety in mind. Here are a few tips to remember:

  • Stay hydrated! You sweat more than you realize when you’re working out in water, so drink plenty of fluids before and after you work out.
  • Use a floatation device! If you’re not a strong swimmer, wear a buoyancy belt or floatation vest.
  • Avoid working out in water above 90°F (32°C).
  • Stop exercising if you experience any of the following: lightheadedness or dizziness, difficulty breathing, nausea, fainting, weakness or pain or pressure in your chest or upper body.

With the coronavirus still among us, there has probably never been a better time to have your own pool. It’s private, always accessible, and you can work out on your own schedule. One of the great things about working out in water is that it never feels like quite as much work as dryland training. And the more you enjoy your workout, the more likely you are to stick with it!