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Aqua Aerobics

Aqua aerobics is the performance of aerobic exercise in shallow water such as a swimming pool. In some areas it is known as AquaFit or "water aerobics".

There are many benefits of performing aerobics in the water. Water-related exercise increases cardiovascular fitness, as well as improving overall strength. Also, as the water provides support for the body, the risk of muscle or joint injury is greatly reduced, if not completely eliminated. A great advantage in aqua aerobics is, because it is performed in chest-deep water, both swimmers and non-swimmers can participate. Aqua aerobics trainers usually wear swimsuits in the water.

The Technique

Aqua aerobic workouts usually combine a variety of different techniques, some (if not most) taken from land aerobics. For example, walking or running backward and forward in the pool, jumping jacks and the cross-country skiing motion are often done, along with various arm movements. The workout also may incorporate special water devices, such as "noodles" and other gear that can be used in the water to aid in resistance or flotation.

The Effectiveness

Aquatic activities in general will expend more energy than many land-based activities, this is mainly because water provides noticeably more resistance than air. Water provides 12 times the resistance of air because of its increased density. An aerobic water exercise of around 30 minutes will help burn about 300 calories; most classes last for 45-55 minutes.

Advantages vs. Disadvantages

Advantages

  • Water provides support for the body; nearly 90% of weight is supported. This greatly reduces the risk of any bone, joint or muscle injuries.
  • Aquatic exercise can improve flexibility without causing excess pressure on joints. The effects of gravity are reduced in the water, making it easier to move joints through a wider range of motions.
  • Exercise in water can be much more comfortable than exercise based on land. This is because during the workout, water continually cools the body.

Disadvantages

  • Aqua aerobics requires access to a pool, and so cannot be done at home absent a pool.
  • The cost of the programs vary. They may be covered within a pool membership at some of the facilities, or if prescribed for medical/health reasons. Otherwise, some facilities may charge additional fees.
  • Although aquatic exercise greatly reduces the risk of injury, not as many calories are burned as would be in some other activities.

Getting Involved

Who Can Participate?

Individuals of any age and gender can participate. When in water, up to 90% of the body's weight is supported, therefore placing much less strain on the body's joints.

Finding a Local Aqua Aerobics Program

Many sporting facilities include these programs. Additionlly, local schools and community centers may have such programs.

Equipment and Gear

  • Swimsuit: A swimsuit can be purchased for anywhere between $15 and $80.
  • Aqua-Shoes: Although aqua-shoes are optional, they provide traction, therefore increasing stability in the water, as well as comfort for the feet. These are available for around $25 at most sporting goods retailers.
  • Swim Caps: These are optional, and can be used to keep hair out of the face during sessions. Latex caps can cost only $4, whereas silicone caps will cost around $15. Silicone caps will usually last longer and also feel more comfortable. This exercise does not, generally, require putting the head in or under the water.

Aqua-Aerobics Courses

The cost of these programs may vary. It may be covered with a pool membership at some of the facilities, or if prescribes for medical/health reasons. Otherwise, some facilities may charge additional fees.

Aqua Aerobics and Stress

Most sports may help reduce stress, regardless of whether they are aquatic sports or not. According to aquatic aerobics instructor Linda Gardner "Exercising in the water is a great stress-reliever. The water massages the body and relaxes you as you exercise."


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