Saturday, September 28, 2013

Quest for better health: water aerobics

We all know that exercise is important and beneficial.  We all know that exercise is important to our overall health and has been found to reduce cholesterol, high BP, and to prevent heart disease.  I have struggled over the last few years, with erythromelalgia it is difficult to do any form of exercise without enduring a great deal of pain. 
I posted a little about EM here and  here.

So, I have THOUGHT about exercise and even did some research - but I have not REALLY exercised in several years... sigh

That all changed this week!  On Monday, I signed up and started an Aqua Aerobics class - I know that many think this type of exercise is only for pregnant, arthritic or the very elderly, well I can tell you from personal experience - THAT AIN'T SO!

I started out on Monday with little to no idea as to what I was in for.  The class begins with a fairly simple 10 - 15 minute warm up. Followed by 30 - 40 minutes of pretty strenuous work and another 10 - 15 minutes for stretching.  I am taking these classes three times each week.
This is what I have learned: 
1. You really are working out, even though it does not FEEL the same as a work out on land.
2. Your muscles react the same - you feel stiff and sore!
3. There are several different types, styles and levels of water aerobics.
      Deep water -vs- Shallow water
      Flotation equipment - interesting and challenging.

Classes can work or the beginner to the highly advanced - involving the use of both arms and legs.  The goal of water aerobics is to augment the cardiovascular conditioning. Water resistance gives strength and flexibility, leading to better muscular endurance and balance.  

Even if you can not swim, you can take shallow water classes.  These classes are in water anywhere from your mid-drift to chest level.  Your feet will be touching the pool bottom for the entire class.

Deep water aerobics on the other hand are held where you can not touch the pool bottom. Buoyancy belts are usually used to keep participants at shoulder depth, you still need to use your arms and legs to keep your head above water.

One major benefit of water aerobics is that it provides buoyancy and support for the entier body, making it less likely for muscles, bones and joints to get injured.  Water supports up to 80% of your weight, causing less strain on the joints, back, and torso compared to exercises on land.  The natural buoyancy of water supports the body and relieves stress on joints, tendons and ligaments. The support of the water allows easy and effortless movements.  In deep water aerobics one needs a buoyancy belt, if necessary, to do the exercises for the neck , shoulders, inner and outer arms, thighs, legs, ankles, feet and fingers and toes, etc. Basically you work the entire body.

The high density of water, as compared to air, leads to increased resistance, thereby augmenting muscular endurance and tone.  This means that water aerobics builds-up tone and endured muscle mass all around the body.  Also, one tends to get faster results exercising in the water.  The qualities of water are unique.  Its elasticity adjust to variations in the strength and speed of movement, at various angles, providing a constant resistance evoulution.  The fascinating and inviting qualities of water make the exercise smoother and more relaxed than the same movements on land.

The reduced effect of gravitational force in water leads to improved flexibility in the body.  The joints can be easily moved through a wider range of motion. Making water aerobics all the more beneficial .  Water is considered ideal for muscle toning, is soothing and increases stamina, strength, flexibility and endurance.  

Water aerobics exercises prove to be extremely beneficial in terms of cardiovascular conditioning.  In water aerobics the heart rate is maintained at a lower rate, when compared to cycling or running. The heart seems to work better in water aerobics.

The 'cool' quotient cannot be ruled out when discussing the benefits of water aerobics. It is a refreshing activity and often helps lift the mood.  It keeps the body temperature constant during exercise, keeping you cool and comfortable.  This can be extremely important to those who suffer from conditions such as EM.

Diet and exerciser are important in the battle of the bulge... However, did you know that water aerobics is considered more effective as compared to land exercises?  Water aerobics leads to the loss of between 450 to 700 calories per hour!

Just being in water, neck deep, stimulates circulation, there is a soothing effect on muscles and the heart rate actually recovers faster after water aerobics because it does not work against the force of gravity. 

The equipment, often provided by the facility, may include barbells (in varying degrees of resistance), water noodles, resistance cuffs and aquatic gloves.  An inexpensive way to increase resistance for your lower body work out is to wear fins, aqua socks or even an old pair of tennis shoes.

As with any new exercise you should consult a doctor before beginning and increase your exercise gradually.

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