Author: Ashley Boynes-Shuck
At Noom, we recognize that not all everyone is unique — and that’s a beautiful thing! Part of what makes life so amazing is the wide array of gifts, talents, and abilities that each one of us possesses within. With this variety in mind, it’s important to remember in all things that we’re each bio-individually unique. Everybody and every body is different, with its own particular hurdles and challenges, strong points, and problem areas. This is especially true when it comes to fitness.
“Fitness” doesn’t necessarily have to include formal exercise, workout classes, or going hard at the gym. Staying active can even feel like play! Any way you keep moving — or not! — is A-OK with us.
As you learn to be gentle with yourself in your workout routine, it’s great to explore all kinds of options, no matter what level you consider yourself to be at in terms of fitness. Pool exercises such as swimming, water aerobics/aquacise, pool yoga, and even using an underwater treadmill if you have that available to you at home, at a fitness center, or in a physical therapist’s office, is a great way to stay in shape while also having some playful fun, and ultimately taking pressure and stress off of your joints.
Water aerobics is a low-impact type of exercise that can be more accessible for people with injuries or physical limitations.
Can’t find an official aquacise class in your area? If you have access to an indoor or outdoor pool or ‘spool,’ here are some water exercise ideas for you to try if your doctor agrees that this type of lower-impact, pool-based fitness routine might be right for you.
SWIMMING: Set a time of day to swim laps. You could start off by doing just once or twice per week for 10 or 15 minutes. Eventually, you can lengthen the duration of your swim session, or, increase the frequency, adding more lap-swimming days into your week.
TREADING: Getting into the deep end and treading water is harder than it looks — and it’s a really effective workout, too. If you are a seasoned swimmer, perhaps this is worth a try!
THERAPEUTIC AQUACISES: Holding on to the ledge of a pool or a pool rail, or using the wall of the pool or a flotation device such as a pool noodle, can be a great way to have some extra support for stretching and isometric movements. (An isometric exercises are more isolated muscle contractions focused on a certain body part.) You can choose the duration that is right for you!
POOL YOGA: In the shallow end of pool, you could devote 20-30 minutes to doing water yoga. You may incorporate standing poses such as tree pose, warrior 1 and warrior 2, mountain pose, Utkatasana (chair pose,) eagle pose, sky reaching pose, and other yoga poses and stretches that you are familiar with and comfortable doing. The water aspect may make these movements easier …. or more difficult!
WATER AEROBICS, WITHOUT EQUIPMENT: Marching or jogging in place in the shallow end, walking or ‘running’ around the perimeter of the pool, doing scissor kicks or jumping jacks, squats, lunges, and more are great ways to exercise in the pool without equipment. These are high-resistance and low-impact motions that your joints and muscles just might thank you for! Many community centers and gyms offer water aerboics classes. They are sometimes called pool fitness or aquacise and are oftentimes set to fun music for a livelier atmosphere. Usually there are both all-ages and ‘silver sneakers’ options.
WATER AEROBICS, WITH EQUIPMENT: You can add equipment to pretty much any of the above workouts. If you don’t have aqua weights/water dumbbells you may use your own hands as resistance! Many places that offer water aerobics classes have water weights you can use. Additionally, you can do traditional ‘weight lifting’ exercises in the pool with these special pool weights (think: overhead press, bicep and tricep curls, etc.) Also, you can learn to utilize pool noodles as a piece of workout equipment. On example is to lay back on it so that it allows you to float and kick your feet for one minute on, thirty seconds off, for a total of 5-8 minutes! Then try the same exercise facing down and laying on the noodle that way. Be sure not to swallow any water!
OCEAN OR LAKE EXERCISE: Take a beach stroll or lakeside walk along the water’s edge, barefoot with feet in the sand or grass. Go into the ocean (or lake) up to your knees, and practice your favorite yoga poses or stretches in the water. Just be careful and stay safe!
After all, as the Zen saying goes: “We cannot see our reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see.”
Just meditating by the water outdoors can also be very peaceful and calming, and equally good for your health. If you find yourself in a serene space, sometimes gazing out over the waterline to the horizon allows us to focus on our breathing and being mindfully in the moment.