Taking the aqua exercise plunge

With the dog days of summer upon us, it’s time to get your fitness wet.
Yep, nowadays you can get in a pool or a lake, stay cool, have fun, and get as challenging a workout as you want. We all know swimming is great aerobic exercise and a superb muscle toner, but that’s just a beginning.
Water has 12 times the resistance of air yet aqua exercise is easy and fun to do. There are lots of ways you can jump in and get an impact free cardio and strength workout that rivals the gym without breaking a sweat.
A great place to start is water walking. It’s simple, and it’s a terrific cardio and toning workout. Stand in water between waist and chest deep. Walk across the pool swinging your arms as you would on land using your flattened hands as paddles for added resistance. Walk normally. Don’t lean over and don’t walk on tiptoe.
The water provides a gentle but powerful resistance against your whole body. Walk across several times. As you get used to it you can build up your speed. But, stay in your target heart rate zone. As a rule of thumb, you should be able to barely carry on a conversation while water walking.
There’s some great, reasonably priced, aqua resistance gear out there and using it can give you quite a workout. Your local sporting goods store should have a good selection.
Here’s a simple exercise using foam dumbbells that works your arms, shoulders, chest and back all at once.
Stand in water a little over waist deep with one dumbbell in each hand. Keeping the dumbbells just below the surface and using the broad side for resistance, push one dumbbell straight out in front of you while pulling the other straight back behind you.
Then switch directions keeping the dumbbells in the water the whole time. Stay in your comfort zone. Build up to 12-16 reps over time. In addition, while on vacation be on the lookout for aqua classes at your resort pool. They are often free and a great way to get your feet wet.
Any good resort will offer classes by an AEA (Aquatics Exercise Association) certified instructor. Check with the resort’s fitness desk to be sure. By the way, if you’re nursing an orthopedic injury, exercising in the water will help you rehab while you keep your fitness level together.
So I hope you’ll take the plunge and do some Aqua exercise outdoors, this summer. You may find it’s one of your new favorite things to do, and as our population ages, exercising in the water is clearly “the wave” of the future.
Mirabai can be reached at www.movingfree.com
Mirabai Holland M.F.A. is one of the leading authorities in the Health & Fitness industry, and public health activist who specializing in preventive and rehabilitative exercise for women. Her Moving Free approach to exercise is designed to provide a movement experience so pleasant it does not feel like work.