How Aquatic Exercise Can Help You Lose Weight and Get in Shape
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If you are trying to lose weight in 2022, you are not alone. A Gallup poll found that 55% of US adults want to lose weight. Meanwhile, 26% of US adults are actively and seriously trying to get in shape this year.
Did you know that aquatic exercise is a great weight loss tool? Aquatics classes like swimming and water aerobics can help you burn calories and increase your lean muscle mass.
Plus, water-based exercises have some major advantages over traditional workouts. That means you may enjoy water aerobics way more than your typical exercise routine.
But what exactly is aquatic exercise? And what are all the benefits we have been touting here? We are giving you the answers to these questions and more next, so keep reading!
What Is Aquatic Exercise?
Aquatic exercise simply means exercise that takes place in the water. Swimming is an exercise that takes place in the water, too. But for the purposes of this article, we will mostly be discussing water aerobics.
Water aerobics classes typically take place in a pool. They last about an hour, during which your water aerobics instructor will guide you through aerobic movements.
Most aquatics classes offer a three-part structure, including a warm-up, a series of cardiovascular and/or strength exercises, and a cooldown. The movements are very low-impact and moderate in intensity.
Types of Water Aerobics Exercises
There are so many different ways to exercise in the water. You will be bound to find something you love! But the most popular types of aquatic exercises include the following:
- AquaHIIT (i.e., water-based high-intensity interval training)
- AquaLates (i.e., water-based palates)
These exercises combine familiar workouts with water-based training. And because water has more resistance than air, you may even get a better workout in the water than you would normally!
Who Can Benefit from Water Aerobics?
Water aerobics is one of the best entry-level workouts for people who are new to exercise. That is because aquatic exercise is low-impact, relatively easy, and highly effective.
Being that water aerobics are low-impact, this type of exercise is also great for the following people:
- Older adults
- Pregnant people
- Individuals suffering from acute or chronic pain conditions
- People with arthritis and other joint problems
- Individuals in rehabilitation for an injury
- People with Meniere’s disease and other balance-related conditions
One important thing to note is that people who do not know how to swim can still partake in water aerobics. That is because aquatics classes take place in the shallow end of the pool, so you will be able to stand the entire time.
How Does Aquatic Exercise Help With Weight Loss?
The only surefire way to lose weight is to go into a calorie deficit. And there are two ways to achieve a calorie deficit:
- Eat fewer calories than you burn
- Burn more calories than you eat
Eating fewer calories than you burn would require you to go on a diet. However, studies show that low-calorie diets may help you lose weight at first, but you likely will not keep that weight off in the long term.
So, the better option for sustainable and maintained weight loss is through exercise. After all, doing exercise burns calories directly and indirectly. Here is what we mean by that.
Exercise directly burns up calories in the bloodstream. This is because calories are a type of energy that our bodies use as fuel during a workout.
Exercise also burns up calories indirectly by increasing lean muscles. The more lean muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate.
“Resting metabolic rate” refers to the number of calories we burn when we are at rest. So, the more lean muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even when you aren’t doing anything!
As we will discuss in a moment, aquatic exercise can help you both burn more calories and build muscle. And both of these effects may result in weight loss when you maintain a healthy diet.
Advantages of Aquatic Exercise Over Regular Workouts
By now, you may be wondering: why do aquatic exercise when regular workouts can help with weight loss, too? Water aerobics has some major advantages over non-water-based exercises, which we are talking about next.
Water Aerobics Are Low-Impact
Low-impact exercises reduce pressure on your joints and bones. Yet, they still increase your heart rate, help you build muscle, and burn more calories. Aside from water aerobics, some other low-impact exercises to try are:
You can compare and contrast these body-friendly exercises with higher-impact workouts like running, gymnastics, and heavy weight lifting.
These high-impact exercises are great for most people’s health. But they also put a lot of stress on your body and may increase your risk for injury. Plus, high-impact exercise is not for older adults and people with joint problems.
Water Aerobics Are Arthritis-Friendly
As mentioned, people with arthritis and other joint problems should not partake in high-impact exercise. And this is great news for the 24% of US adults who suffer from arthritis and other joint pain conditions.
Though it may sound contradictory, experts recommend that people with joint conditions get more physical activity. According to the CDC, low-impact exercises may do the following:
- Reduce pain symptoms
- Improve flexibility and joint function
- Increase your mood
The CDC recommends that adults with arthritis get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every single week. And this is where aquatic exercises like water aerobics can come in.
Water Aerobics Reduce the Risk of Injury
Aquatic exercises can reduce the risk of injury in two ways.
First of all, this type of workout can reduce your risk of an exercise-related injury. All exercises present the risk of injury. But water resists body movements more than the air does, resulting in more support.
Secondly, water aerobics can reduce the risk of falling and subsequent injury in older adults. This benefit comes from the fact that resistance exercise can help you build muscle and flexibility.
Improved muscle, especially in the core, can help with balance and stability. And with better balance, older adults can eliminate their risk of falling.
Water Aerobics Burns More Calories
Remember when we mentioned that water is more resistant than air? This fact results not only in a reduced risk of injury but also an increased rate of calorie burning.
For example, let’s compare regular low-impact aerobic exercises with water aerobics. The former will burn about 365 calories per hour. Meanwhile, the same exercises done in water will burn about 402 calories per hour.
This calorie-burning rate is higher than other low-impact workouts, such as doing the elliptical (365 calories per hour), cycling (292 calories per hour), and walking (314 calories per hour).
Water Aerobics Feels Less Challenging
We just told you that water aerobics can be more effective than many other types of exercise. So, you may not believe us when we also tell you that water aerobics is even easier than traditional exercise!
This is due to water’s natural buoyancy. Buoyancy refers to water’s ability to exert force on you. When you submerge into the water (exerting your force on it), the water pushes you upward.
Buoyancy is why most people can float in water. But it also means that making movements underwater is far less challenging than in the air.
It will take you longer to tire, and you will feel like you are exerting less energy, even though you are burning equally as many, if not more, calories compared to non-water-based workouts.
Best of all, you may even find yourself actually enjoying exercise for a change!
The Health Benefits of Aquatic Exercise
We have discussed one of the many benefits of water aerobics already: the potential to help you lose weight. But what are the other benefits of aquatic exercises? We are talking about five of them next.
We mentioned that water resists your body’s movements through it. That means that doing movements in water is a type of resistance training.
Resistance training refers to any exercise that increases your muscle mass and improves your endurance. The most common type of resistance exercise is weight lifting.
The main advantage of resistance training is that you will develop more muscle and get stronger. And getting stronger has multiple benefits, including reducing the risk of injury and helping you lose weight.
Increase Your Endurance
Endurance is a scientific term. It refers to someone’s ability (or lack thereof) to do exercises that increase the maximum heart rate by 50% or more. And water aerobics can help increase endurance.
Other types of exercises that can help you improve your endurance include:
Endurance has many benefits of its own. Having good endurance usually means you have a healthy cardiovascular system.
You may also enjoy a reduced risk for health conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disorders (e.g., stroke and heart attack).
Improving your endurance may also help you live longer. That is because heart disease, stroke, and diabetes are among the leading causes of death in the US. Heart disease is the #1 leading cause of death in the US.
Improve Your Flexibility
Flexibility refers to your body’s ability to move freely. While this may not sound like a big deal, flexibility is important for maintaining good posture and improving your ability to get around.
The good news is that aquatic exercise may help improve your flexibility. This is because your water aerobics instructor will require you to do a lot of stretching, twisting, and moving.
Since your body will experience resistance from the water, your muscles will get better at completing a wide range of motions.
Strengthen Your Lungs
Any type of cardiovascular exercise can help improve the strength and function of your lungs. Here’s how.
When you exercise, your heart rate goes up. This increase in heart rate sends a signal to your lungs that your body and muscles need more oxygen. Your lungs must then work harder to pump more oxygen to the heart.
These events result in a workout for your lungs, too, strengthening them. And the stronger your lungs, the better your endurance and the more control you will have over your own breathing.
What’s more, stronger lungs mean more resistance to lung disease. And this is good news considering lung disease is another one of the leading causes of death in the US.
One of the coolest things about aquatic exercise is that it does not just improve your physical health. Emerging research has found that water aerobics may also benefit your mental health.
For example, a 2019 study investigated the impact of aquatic exercise on older adults. The study found that after 3 months of bi-weekly water aerobics classes, the participants had reduced depression, anxiety, and oxidative stress.
More recent studies have substantiated this finding. For example, a 2022 review of aquatic exercise research looked at the evidence for this type of exercise’s benefits on mental health.
Overall, the review found that aquatic exercises of all kinds may help manage mental health conditions in the short term. The primary conditions the research investigated were depression, anxiety, mood, self-esteem, and well-being.
Take Aquatic Exercise Classes at Results Gym in Alexandria
Aquatic exercise, AKA water aerobics, is a great weight loss tool for older adults and other individuals searching for low-impact exercises.
Water aerobics also offers additional benefits, including muscle gain, improved mental health, and more.
Are you searching for ‘aquatic exercise classes near me’? Results Gym is the place for fitness enthusiasts of all levels, ages, shapes, and sizes. Learn more about our indoor pool water aerobics offerings, and come join us today!