Swimming is an undeniably valuable type of aerobic exercise, but it can be intimidating to start. Many adults took standard swim lessons offered at the local pool as children, and some children may even excel at the sport, while others just “get by.” A few may even join a swim team; however, most adults give up on swimming and water activities in general. But water exercise comes in different forms and has a variety of benefits which should be considered when looking for an enjoyable fitness activity, and something one can share with other adults and children alike.
Physical Benefits of Water Exercise
Immersion, Gravity, and Buoyancy
Since water is denser than the human body, pressure is applied evenly across all the body’s surface. This creates buoyancy, which explains why you weigh less in the water as gravity is reduced (in fact, body weight is reduced by about 90% when completed in chest-level water). This type of activity is better for joints, alleviating pressure on them while they are moving the entire range of motion. For example, water-based running allows even serious runners a break from the effects of above-water activities, balancing resistance with reduced impact, especially in elite athletes who have a strenuous training schedule.
The same pressure on the body surface caused by the density of water affects the underlying blood vessels, forcing blood to flow easier and blood vessels to relax. The heart increases blood flow by either increasing its own rate or increasing the amount of blood per contraction. While submerged, the heart can work with less resistance as blood flow is increased without increasing the heart rate.
As stated above, the resistance placed on the body while immersed allows participants to work at a slower pace while maintaining the intensity of the workout. The pressure on the body has a stronger affect on the respiratory system, which includes decreased vital capacity and more difficulty in breathing, which means that you work harder at breathing as you resist the pressure of water against the chest! This increased work equates to a more strenuous workout, building strength and endurance, especially in those muscles used for respiration.
Increases Muscle Strength and Flexibility
Working in water provides resistance in both contraction and elongation of muscles. The pressure applied by water causes slower body movements, which can be considered a form of weight training by equalizing the pressure without gravity. The resistance is equal across all body surfaces, allowing participants to move their bodies in many directions, stretching easily without the joint pressure seen in stretching on land.
Mental Benefits (and Ease) of Water Exercise
Hydrotherapy is Relaxing
The thermal properties of water can work for and against the participant, since it constantly moves heat to and from the body. It can be warming and cooling depending on the needs of the participant, which adds to its value for therapeutic purposes. It has been proven that warm water lowers blood pressure, and since immersion increases cardiac volume and relaxes blood vessels, it is likely that continued use can provide long-term health benefits (both physically and mentally).
Water Activity is Available All Year-Round
Indoor pools can be found everywhere, so no matter the weather conditions, water training can be accomplished. From local schools to public recreation facilities, swimming pools and water exercise classes can be found in all communities. Classes for all ages and abilities means that no matter your swimming abilities, you can find a water activity to enjoy!
Water Aerobics and Other Non-Swimming Water Activities are Social Events
Organized classes as well as play time with friends and kids combines water and enjoyment. Water sports appeal to all ages of individuals and are affordable exercises requiring little investment, and a regimen can be started with people of all aerobic abilities.
Anybody Can Participate
Based on all the physical benefits listed above, it makes sense for both beginner and high performing athletes to include water activities as part of their training regimen. However, some of the most attractive aspects of water exercise are the health benefits which those suffering from physical limitations can gain, including:
- Physical Therapy for Injuries
How the PowerLung Works with Water Exercise
Respiratory Muscle Training can support all athletic events, including water therapy. Use of the PowerLung device as part of a regular training program can improve performance in all athletic events, decrease dyspnea, and improve quality of life by enabling even the most casual participants to improve their respiratory function. With several models to choose from, there is a device suited for your needs, not matter how strenuously or casually you participate in activities. Discover how only 10 minutes a day using a PowerLung device can greatly enhance your respiratory muscle strength!