Aqua aerobics, or water aerobics, typically is comprised of aerobic exercises performed in shallow water, such as a swimming pool. It typically uses the water as resistance for exercises that normally are done on land, such as jogging or jumping jacks. Aqua aerobics can have the same benefits as other types of exercise, but it offers a lower risk of injuries to the muscles and joints. Many people do different types of water aerobics to help build and tone muscles as well as lose weight.
There are many forms of water aerobics that can be done with or without equipment such as flippers, specialized water aerobics shoes, flotation devices or ankle and wrist weights. Some classes use music during the workout. Though not as many calories are burned as in land aerobics, participants in water aerobics classes that last 30 minutes typically burn about 300 calories. Many classes include kicking, jumping, squats, dance movements, warm-ups, a cool-down period and stretching exercises.
Aqua aerobics is generally more low-impact than land-based exercises, but participants sometimes expend more energy because of the water resistance. Movements tend to be done at a slower speed because of the water. This resistance also helps prevent injuries because the gravity pull is less stressful on joints and the water assists to prevent the body from overheating. Many older people enjoy this type of exercise because the water typically allows them a greater range of overall motion.
Water aerobics is a popular form of exercise for people with health issues such as arthritis, back pain, a soft tissue injury and joint problems. Some gyms and pools also offer high-impact aqua aerobics classes, including water boxing, AquaFit and Aqua Step. Swimming is not usually a requirement for water aerobics because it is done in shallow water, and some people do not even get their hair wet. Many classes are held at different water depths, and some use use float belts as well.
The many benefits of water aerobics include calorie burning, stress relief and a low risk of overheating. It is good for most fitness levels, helps to build strength and flexibility and aids in weight loss. Water aerobics typically only requires the body to support 50 percent of its weight because of its water setting, so exercises might be easier to perform.
The disadvantages of aqua aerobics are that it can be only a seasonal activity if there’s no access to a heated, indoor pool in the autumn and winter. Many classes require access to swimming pool facilities and can require membership fees. People with health issues should consult a doctor before beginning water aerobics exercise.