Three Ways to Get Active in the Pool (Lap Swimming Not Included!)

As the seasons change, many of us are looking for fun and unique ways to spice up our typical fitness routines. What better way to make a splash than by taking to the pool and giving aqua fitness a try? 

Most people think of lap swimming when it comes to incorporating a pool into their fitness routine, but pools aren’t just for lap-lovers. Nearly any type of athlete can benefit from time spent in water; aqua exercise can increase strength, cardiovascular endurance and mobility. 

Research tells us that just two and a half hours per week of aerobic physical activity, such as swimming, bicycling or running can decrease the risk of chronic illnesses.

Below we’ll cover the many benefits of moving your body in water and why we think you should give aqua exercise a try. We’ll also include three ways to work out in water, free of lap swimming if that’s not your thing. Let’s dive in.

Why Exercise in Water?

When it comes to taking your workout offshore, there are many reasons to give it a try as a beginner. Because water is more resistant than air, working out in the pool can make the same exercises that you’d do on land more difficult in water, thus providing an added challenge. The heavier resistance can help engage your muscles more fully and work harder in a shorter amount of time. 

On the other hand, the buoyancy of water provides extra support for your muscles and joints, making for a gentler, less impactful workout despite the added challenges discussed above. This also decreases the overall risk of injury. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), water workouts can be especially beneficial for:

  • Individuals who suffer from joint injuries or conditions, such as osteoporosis or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Women who are pregnant or post-menopausal
  • Individuals who suffer from mental health and mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, who are looking to boost their mood
  • Older adults and other individuals who suffer from low mobility, balance issues, and/or are looking to lessen disability
  • Individuals who suffer from asthma looking to increase their lung capacity.

The dynamic resistance factor of water is another aspect that increases a water workout’s versatility and access. Depending on your speed, position or form, you can choose to make an exercise more or less challenging. For example, when jogging in water, you’re interacting with more resistance if the water level is to your waist than if it was knee high. You have the ability to incorporate as much or as little rest as you require throughout your workout, and adjust your length of time swimming to increase your intensity as you get stronger.

Like many other forms of movement, aqua exercise has been shown to increase muscle and decrease fat mass, improve your sleep, manage stress and boost your mood. If you’re looking to get started with an exercise program or to simply try something new, jump in the pool. A whole host of benefits for your mind, body and soul are just waiting to be discovered and advance you further in your wellness journey.

At this point, you may be eager to tap into these benefits and are wondering where to start. Below are three unique and effective ways to move your body in water, and how you can try out these activities for yourself as a beginner.

1. Aqua Walking, Jogging or Running

Aqua jogging, also known as deep water running, is a form of cardiovascular exercise that allows one to mimic their stride in water that they typically would perform on land. With everything submerged but your head, you have the option to move freely beneath the surface of the water. Pace is selective, and you can choose to walk or pick it up to jog or run. Some pools have flotation devices that hold you in place, but you can always choose to walk or jog actual laps in the pool if one isn’t available.

Aqua jogging is a top pick for rehabilitating runners, as well as lower-mobility individuals trying to work their way up from a walk to a jog. A key feature of this exercise practice is that it allows you to carry out the same form that you would have on land, but in water, which increases cardiovascular output, improves posture and form, and increases muscular strength, all while minimizing the wear and tear on your body. You receive many of the benefits of walking, jogging or running, all while keeping it 100 percent low impact.

Aqua jogging and aquatic exercise in general provide a unique form of resistance training that strengthens the entire body. Moving in vertical positions such as in aqua jogging provides four times greater resistance than horizontal positions like swimming. It also significantly decreases pressure on large weight-bearing joints such as the hips or knees, which for many can be weak or painful with these activities translated to land.

Aqua jogging is an excellent way to improve cardiovascular fitness and work on running form, but it also minimizes the impact on your joints. We encourage you to pay attention to your posture and form and consider swapping out one of your regular cardio days for an aqua jogging session. Don’t wait until you’re injured to give it a try!

2. Pool Workouts and Community Classes

Looking for an unconventional way to squeeze in some extra resistance and improve your strength, speed, and agility? Try your hand at a pool workout or attend an aquatic fitness class at your local pool or wellness center. It’s a great way to build community and meet new people if you’re in a class setting, in addition to an abundance of other health and fitness-related benefits.

Pool workouts not only have the capacity to boost cardiovascular capacity and increase muscular strength, but it also gives your body a refreshing break if you often participate in higher-impact activities. Individuals can allow their bodies time to heal from other workouts, while not forgoing daily training sessions, thus making it an excellent cross-training option and a way to incorporate balance. 

A good starting place is the following 20-minute bodyweight circuit. 

  • Warm up with three to five minutes of aqua jogging or high knees in place
  • Perform the following exercises in order three times through for 40 seconds, followed by 20 seconds of rest or active recovery:
    • Squat jumps
    • Alternating hamstring curls
    • Push-ups
    • Bicep curls
    • Lateral arm raise
    • Leg lifts
  • Cool down for three to five minutes with full-body stretches and deep breathing.

Consider giving a pool circuit like the one above a try, or research the pool class opportunities in your community today. 

3. Pool Games, Water Sports and Other Mood Boosters

Pool games and water sports can be anywhere from therapeutic and soothing to energetic and thrilling. We all know that exercise in any form releases mood-lightening endorphins that make us feel more positive and happy. When in (or sometimes on) the water, the feeling of lightness is enough to help us relax and unwind. Whether you’re swimming with friends in a backyard pool or out on a beautiful lake, you’re bound to feel more energized and able to let go of the stresses of everyday life.

We encourage you to try tapping into the element of play that might be missing in your life and go for a water game with friends. Having fun in the pool doesn’t have to stop after childhood. Try throwing together a game of pool volleyball or catch or truly anything you can think of that will not only get you moving but spark feelings of joy. It may be something to try if you’re looking to get active and experience an adrenaline rush!

Having a fitness routine and moving your body regularly doesn’t need to be a chore, or worse, something you dread. If you’re exploring your options when it comes to getting active, try searching for something that not only keeps you active but gets you excited and nurtures additional aspects of your wellness other than just the physical, such as the mental, emotional, spiritual, and social pieces. You can’t go wrong with getting friends together for some team building or lighthearted competition.

In the Skyterra Natatorium guests can attend Aqua Fit classes on a daily basis for overall wellness and enjoyment. This year-round indoor/outdoor pool was designed to accommodate all kinds of fitness and games and includes lap-swimming lanes. The structure also includes an outdoor hot tub, sauna, and landscaped terrace overlooking mountain views.