Exercise and nutrition scientist Kathleen Alleaume reveals five great water exercises that will help you shape up and slim down.
Water workouts, which involve doing a series of exercises underwater, offer benefits you just won’t find with other types of exercise. The most significant benefit is that your weight is completely supported by the buoyancy of the water, making this workout perfect for those with joint pain or previous injuries.
Water exercise programs provide the same health benefits, in less time, than exercise done on dry land. It’s great for those wanting a challenge, since water provides more resistance than air, making it a great way to get your heart rate up and burn more kilojoules. As an added bonus, it’s safer and more comfortable for pregnant women and those who are overweight.
Work out on your own or check with your local pool or community centre about group water exercise classes.
Areas targeted: Arms, legs, butt, thighs, abdominals
If you’ve tried running, but find it too challenging, then water running could be for you. It’s just as effective as regular running, but has little impact on your joints, muscles and bones. Make sure you’re in deep enough water so your feet don’t touch the bottom, then begin to move your arms and legs in a circular, running motion. Within minutes, you’ll feel your muscles start to burn. The resistance is great for muscular endurance and toning. You can also add additional equipment – a flotation belt to keep you upright (or hold onto a kick board if you aren’t confident in deep water) or weights, which will help to vary the effort and intensity of your workout.
Start with 5 minutes and work your way up to 10 minutes.
Areas targeted: Arms, upper back, shoulders
Stand in chest-high water with your feet apart and arms extended straight in front of you while holding a ball. Push the ball under the water, then swing it to make a vertical figure-of-eight pattern through the water. Move the ball in a smooth fashion, making sure not to strain your shoulders or back. Maintain a sturdy balance and breathing rhythmically.
10 ‘figure eights’ x 2 sets
Areas targeted: Butt, legs, thighs
Stand in waist-height water with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees as you push your hips back, as if you are sitting on a chair. Keep your knees behind your toes and your feet planted firmly on the bottom. Hold briefly, then squeeze your bum muscles as you stand back up. Return to start position and repeat.
10 squats x 2 sets
Areas targeted: Abdominals, lower back
Stand with your back against the side of the pool, arms along the edge for support. Draw your knees up to your chest. Extend your legs straight ahead. Inhaling, swing legs to your left, then to your right. Exhale as you move your legs back to centre and withdraw back to your chest. Throughout the motion, keep your back pressed against the wall.
10 times x 2 sets
Areas targeted: Butt, legs, thighs, abdominals
In chest-high water, stand an arm-length away from the pool wall. Rest both of your hands against the wall at shoulder height. Keep your arms straight and relax your shoulders. Raise your left leg and gently swing it back. Don’t raise your leg too high and keep the supporting leg bent. Repeat with the right leg.
10 kicks with each leg x 2 sets
NOTE: If you are pregnant, overweight or recovering from injury, speak to your doctor before undertaking any exercise regime.