How fortunate are we as a country to be able to enjoy basking in the great outdoors while adapting our summer workouts to suit the warmer conditions? I certainly don’t go many days without dipping my toes in the water/ocean with the question being, “Is there a better way to stay cool than to include water fitness this time of the year”? Win, win, all round I say.
Water has great workout benefits: Firstly, it provides great resistance from all vectors and angles – while working opposing muscle groups. For example, swimming or water aerobics. Another plus is its buoyancy. The support of the water assists in reducing your body weight load (bliss) therefore lessening significantly the amount of stress through the joints, bones and muscles (and this should be music to your ears if you suffer from injuries or are pregnant).
Completing water workouts help engage our core and postural muscles that tend to become neglected as we age or with other forms of isolation exercises. You may not also realise, but any time you’re submerged in water, (whether it’s in the ocean or pool) the forces of the water on your body cause an increase in hydrostatic pressure to create an amazing movement of the lymphatic system. This is why swimming, deep water running or aqua aerobics is the absolute ideal form of exercise for people with compromised lymphatic systems.
There are so many ‘cool’ ways to stay fit in the water. The most obvious is to swim laps at your local pool. Aim to build up your workout to be at least 30-40 mins, then alter your sessions to include something like 15 x 100 meter on 2 minutes or 20 x 50 meters on 1 minute (or a time that leaves you breathless).
Kicking with a kickboard is one of THE best butt and thigh workouts. Once you feel you have mastered the technique of keeping your hips high and actually moving forward, again add in sets while working off the clock. Try adding a set of fins to work a whole set of smaller muscle groups. You can even try using a snorkel and kick with fins without a board, (which is gentler on your shoulders and back) and allows your body to remain in a correct postural alignment. Using a swimming snorkel while swimming is also a great option for sufferers of stiff necks or backs as you are reducing the amount of rotation through the stroke.
Deep water running is not only something athletes can do if injury rears its ugly head, but also something you can hook into in your own backyard pool. Pop yourself in a buoyancy vest or stick a foam noodle under your armpits and run on the spot in the deeper section of the pool. Wear a watch and do intervals of 1 minute hard, 30 seconds easy for 20-30mins. Jump in the while the kids are mucking about and you can play lifeguard at the same time. Win! Win!
Next, take your cross training to the beach and include wading through the surf with high knees which I’m sure will remind yourself of muscles you have possibly forgotten exist. Mix it up with a set of soft sand dune runs/walks with a cool off in the ocean between sets.
Additionally, there is always surfing, stand up paddle boarding, windsurfing, or kayaking.
Keep in mind that although you may be kept cool in the water, you are still sweating considerably so remember to stay hydrated (water, not Christmas cheer preferably).
Working out in the water is easy but for obvious reasons, it should never be done alone. Once summer ends, you don’t have to stop including water fitness as part of your routine. Find an indoor pool, or wear a wetsuit to keep those endorphin hits going. Most of all have fun and enjoy the ‘spiritual bath’ that water provides and it’s abilities to wash away the stresses of the day.