Health Feature Articles
Water fitness, a great way to be active
Melissa Bess, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Camden County, University of Missouri Extension
If you are interested in trying a new type of fitness activity, take the plunge into water fitness. Also called aquatics, water fitness is a versatile and low-impact activity that almost anyone can benefit from and enjoy. Individuals with arthritis, older adults, overweight adults, pregnant women and many others can participate in water fitness.
Water fitness activities reduce the stress on bones and joints because the body is buoyant in the water. You are actually only supporting about 10 percent of your total body weight when you are in the water.
Aerobic activities like running, jumping and dancing can be done in a pool with less impact than normal. Water provides the resistance that weights would normally provide, or special buoyant weights can be used in a pool for resistance and strength activities. Stretches done in the water can help improve flexibility and range of motion in a gentle way because of less gravity.
However, water fitness doesn’t strengthen bones and joints as well as other activities that require your body to support its own weight. Make sure you also do weight-bearing activities on land, like walking, dancing or strength training. Water fitness typically does not burn as many calories as other activities, but can greatly reduce chances for injury.
Water fitness can fit into an overall exercise program. As with any exercise program, make sure you talk to your physician about any health concerns before beginning a new water fitness program. Local aquatic centers, YMCAs and fitness centers are great places for indoor or outdoor water activities.
For more information on this or other health-related topics, contact Melissa Bess at the Camden County Extension Center at 573-346-2644 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Updated 07/23/2015