Summer is a great time to enjoy the water. Local pools have reopened, and lake houses are in full swing again. But do laps at the pool or swimming across the lake sound daunting, if not impossible to you? If so, try doing your land-based exercises in the water. The practice has more health benefits than you may think.

We all know of the advantages the non-impact environment water provides when your back or knees are bothering you. Water acts like a cushion for your weight-bearing joints, which reduces stress on muscles, tendons and ligaments. When you are in water up to your shoulders, you support about 10% of your body weight.

On the other hand, water has a much higher resistance than air, so you are still getting an effective workout for your body. Try walking laps in the pool, or walk out into the lake until you are about chest height and lightly tread water to work your arms too. While holding the wall of a pool or dock in the lake, perform squats, jumps, or push-ups. Activate your core by gently kicking with a kick-board or pool noodle held in front of you.

Water exercises can provide more health benefits than just a low-impact, higher-resistance environment. Water can help your heart circulate blood more effectively because of the pressure created when you are immersed. You’ll even find your heart rate will even stay about 10-15 beats lower in the water than with the same effort on land because of the pressure.

When working out in a heated pool, the warmth of the water helps to increase blood flow, which delivers healing agents and oxygen to injured tissues. This can decrease pain, muscle tension and swelling. Furthermore, flexibility has been shown to increase after moving in water.

Further benefits of water-based exercise include the ability to increase strength and range of motion after an injury or surgery before it could be tolerated on land. Water also provides an opportunity to practice your balance with little to no risk of falling.

Talk to one of the experts at Freedom Physical Therapy to get more tips on beginning a water based exercise program.

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DPT
Julie graduated with honors from Marquette University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Exercise Physiology. She received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree in 2015.