By Erica Moe | Get Fit!
It’s too hot. I have a sports injury. I have back pain. I’m pregnant. I have arthritis. All are excuses that seem worthy of skipping a workout. Or are they?
Actually, there’s no need to skip that workout anymore. Instead, just add water. The buoyancy of water can reduce bodyweight by about 90 percent, making exercise more doable and enjoyable, but still challenging. What’s more, you can avoid much of the pain that’s brought on by weight-bearing exercise.
Not just for rehab
Water is an environment that welcomes all levels of exercisers, from beginner to advanced. Similar to “land” exercise, a workout in the water offers benefits in cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, flexibility, core stability, balance and cognitive health.
“Water exercise is not just for rehab, and it’s not just for injured runners,” stresses Kari Lorraine Scott, lead aquatic personal trainer and water exercise instructor at Mission Valley YMCA.
Scott teaches a deep-water running class at the Y, and wants the running community, particularly those training for the upcoming Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, to take a dip in the pool.
“It’s a great way to extend the life of your running legs without losing that competitive edge. And,” she added, “Meb does it!” (San Diego’s Meb Keflezighi recently became the oldest American to qualify for the Olympics in the marathon.)
In addition to seeing athletes improve performance, Scott coaches countless people through training in the water both before and after knee and hip surgeries.
“People who work in the water prior to surgery find it much easier and faster to rehab,” Scott said. “And they are so pleased to be able to get back to regular activities like cycling, rock climbing, golf or just walking.”
Try a class
Try a heart-pumping, deep-water class with the assistance of a flotation belt or a low-impact water class. How about Zumba or a mind/body session in the water? These classes are usually held in chest-high water, so you don’t have to be a star swimmer to participate. You don’t even have to get your hair wet!
Log some laps
Swimming laps is a great way to improve your heart and lung capacity while being gentle on those joints. It can tone all your major muscles and is a great way for runners and cyclists to cross train. Find open swim time at the pool or join a Masters swim team (“masters” just means ages 18 and older) for coached workouts.
Take the plunge
It’s spring. It’s getting warmer. Get outside, cool off and get an incredible workout at the same time. Remember, the harder you push, the harder the water pushes back. “You can’t out-push the water!” remarks Scott.
Get in synch
Here’s something different and fun: Mission Valley YMCA is home to the Synchronettes, a synchronized swim team that practices twice weekly. New members are always welcome, and you can see the team perform at a free show at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 16 at the Y.
—Erica Moe is an ACSM certified exercise physiologist who writes on behalf of the Mission Valley YMCA, where she is a fitness director.