Just Add Water: Low-Impact Fitness Ideas
With just enough warm weather left in the season, there is no better time to dip into the trend of water workouts. Allowing your muscles to regroup from high-impact exercises is important for a number of reasons. First, by mixing in low-impact exercise you reduce stress on joints, bones, and muscles. What’s more, you improve other important areas like flexibility, strength, and balance. And since water resistance makes you work harder — approximately 12 times as much — you can also expect to burn some calories and sculpt your muscles, too! Tip: the deeper the water, the more resistance.
For the perfect upper-body burn, try lateral arm raises. Stand in shoulder-deep water with arms straight down against your sides. Slowly extend both arms straight out to the sides all the way up to the surface of the water. Pause, then press down to starting position, and repeat. Or, try bicep curls and tricep extensions with the extra resistance the water adds — the key to both is focusing on your form.
To get your legs in on the workout, try leg lifts. Just stand up straight, and extend your right leg straight out to the side. Lift as far as you can without turning your hips or ankle. If you need to, hold onto a partner or the edge of the pool for balance. Do three sets on each leg. Another great lower-body workout? Squats. Stand in the water with feet about hip-width apart and bend your knees and push your hips back. (Note: keep your knees behind your toes as if you are sitting on a chair.) Squeeze your glutes as you return to start position and repeat 8 to 10 times.
Water walking isn’t very different from the everyday version — just remember to keep your back straight and avoid walking on your tip-toes. Once you’ve mastered these water workouts, you can turn up the cardio by adding weights, kickboards, and extra reps, or picking up the pace.
Another idea? Take gym favorites like aerobics and Zumba into the water. And remember that you can always mix it up with non-aquatic, low-impact exercises like walking, biking, yoga, and the elliptical to give your body a break. Finally, don’t forget that water workouts can be done year round — you’ll just need to find an indoor pool.
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