South Floridian Sue W, 68 and an avid golfer, had to give up the sport this year due to arthritis in her hip. Her friend and neighbor, Ruth is only in her 50’s, but stopped playing tennis recently because of chronic knee pain.
Both women know that exercising is important, but aren’t sure what they can do to maintain their fitness.
The answer, according to Canadian researchers, is to get in the water and move.
Dr. Martin Juneau from the Montreal Heart Institute and colleagues had healthy subjects perform exercise tests on both the land and water cycling machines (with water up to chest level) and found that those using the immersible ergocycle (basically an exercise bike in a pool) had the equivalent workout as those using a typical stationary bike.
The study findings were reported in October at the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society in Toronto.
Because of the resistance of the water when moving, it might not seem as though you can work as hard. However, when the researchers measured maximal oxygen consumption for the two groups, they were almost the same.
They even found that the heart rate of the participants was a little lower in the water, suggesting that exercise during water immersion may be even more efficient from a cardiorespiratory standpoint.
And for people like Sue and Ruth who suffer from joint problems or injuries, the lower stress of moving in the water is an added benefit.
Bottom line: if you can’t workout on land, water aerobics is a great low impact alternative to improving overall fitness.
For more information:
- from the CDC about the benefits of water based exercise
- from the Aquatic exercise association (non-profit educational organization dedicated to promoting aquatic fitness)
- examples of water exercises with videos