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Aquatic Exercises for Everyone

By: Sheila Borgen

Summertime is a time to vacation, enjoy bar-b-ques and parties with friends, and go camping, hiking, and biking. But goodness! It can sure get hot outside!

There are many ways to cool down in the blistering summer heat. Pop open an icy cold beverage, run through a sprinkler, or wet a bandana and lay it around your neck. You could also use one of those cute little spray bottles with small fans to help down the heat level a notch. However, jumping into a crystal-clear swimming pool can't be beaten for the ultimate cool down!

Unfortunately, many people can't enjoy the pool because they have an injury or physical limitation.

Or can they?

There are many ways to stay cool in a swimming pool, even if you have an injury or condition that prohibits you from doing the butterfly stroke, backstroke, or breaststroke.

Let's look at ten activities in the pool to strengthen and tone muscles, enhance balance, build endurance, improve your cardiovascular system, and burn calories while engaging nearly every major muscle group in your body with low impact.

1. Aqua jogging strengthens glutes, hips, and upper leg muscles.

2. Marching targets glutes, hip flexors, and core muscles.

3. Jumping jacks work glutes, quadriceps, hip flexors, abdominals, and shoulder muscles.

4. Pool wall push-ups strengthen the core and arms.

5. Step-ups improve balance and coordination and build leg strength.

6. Walking lunges benefit quads, calves, hamstrings, and glutes.

7. Grab a pool noodle and push it down in the water repetitively to focus on biceps and triceps strength.

8. Squat-jumps target hamstrings, quads, hips, and glutes.

9. Biceps curls with aquatic dumbbells can help strengthen and tone your arms.

10. Heel-toe walk across the pool as if you are on an imaginary tightrope to challenge your balance.

Pool exercises can benefit anyone seeking an alternative to a typical gym routine. In some cases, aquatic activities are even more valuable. The resistance of the water helps to increase your heart rate as you move. In addition, the buoyancy of the water significantly reduces the stress on joints and injuries.

I recently had the opportunity to interview a runner. Not just any runner, but one who has run 25 full marathons and 40+ half marathons. As you can imagine, training for a marathon comes with its challenges...…and injuries. This athlete has experienced much trauma over her running career, including stress fractures, a hip labrum tear, and a broken toe. One of her recent injuries required surgical intervention. She could not over-emphasize how pool exercises became her saving grace for recovery after each injury and surgery. She even trained for the Boston Marathon while swimming and aqua jogging due to a stress fracture!

If this athlete turned to pool exercises to maintain her elite physical fitness, how much more could it benefit those just trying to get through everyday life with an injury?

If you are fighting through an injury or suffering from a condition such as arthritis or fibromyalgia, aquatic therapy might also be your saving grace!

Consider reaching out to a trained professional who can design a pool workout tailored to your specific needs. No more excuses. Now is the right time to cool down while on the mend!

Sheila is a freelance writer for physical health, mental health, and parenting. She has four exceptional children, one adopted from South Korea. She lives in Alabama with her husband and children. Sheila enjoys cheering her children on at their archery tournaments and soccer games. She has over 23 years of experience as a physical therapist with a special love for the senior population. Learn more about Sheila at

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