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Monday, January 25, 2010

Aquatic Fitness

OK, so I wanted to discuss aquatic exercise and fitness briefly. I think that a lot of FA ladies do a once-a-week water aerobics class where they put in minimal effort and think that this workout should be enough exercise for anyone.

I think aquatic fitness like this can be very effective if done with a lot of effort, consistency, and longer than just a half hour. I have been "water jogging," lap swimming, and doing deep water resistance exercises at my gym lately due to some knee, ankle and back pain I've been dealing with. I know it's working because my muscles feel sore after a good, hour-or-longer workout where I moved quickly and worked hard against the water the whole time. But I know for a fact that water exercises can be very easy and not very effective if you don't actually push yourself.

I've run into a couple of women at the gym who are regular water exercisers, but they aren't in very good shape. The reason I think it is, is that they stop after only a half hour, and they don't actually exert themselves very much. I tend to swim many laps to get my heartrate up, then I'll tread water and pump these thingies: like crazy and as hard and fast as I can. I usually spend an hour or two in the pool, only stopping for a little stretch and water break here and there. I don't use a floatation device, because I figure I'll burn more calories in my workout by actually having to put in the effort of staying afloat. I also wear these aquagloves which essentially give you webbed fingers, creating even more resistance with the water. I think I'm getting much more of a "workout" than the women who flit about on their floatation devices pumping their legs like a bicycle.

The reason I bring this up is in the past, people on this board who are seasoned fitness enthusiasts often poo-poo'ed aquatic fitness as an exercise only for pregnant, old and fat people, or people who needed physical therapy. It can be beneficial to someone who doesn't fall in that category, and can be a damn good workout if you actually work HARD at it. The women I see flitting about the pool at a slow pace and only for a half hour aren't getting the results that I'll get from really pumping hard in that water for well over an hour, getting my heartrate up and creating lots of resistance in the water for my muscles.

Another thing people do when they swim is they often build up a huge appetite and overeat afterwards, but I'm following a food plan and adhering to my portions. I also make sure to have a small snack with some protein in it just a few minutes after my workout to take the edge off my hunger so I don't go stuff my face too much. I think the reason that aquatic exercise doesn't always work as far as weight loss goes is that people do get hungry from swimming and tend to go nosh on things they shouldn't in a higher quantity than they should after a swim.

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