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Swimming and aqua workouts

If you are looking for a good all-round form of aerobic exercise why not try water aerobics. Running, jogging and walking underwater in a pool not only strengthens the leg and hip muscles - the quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteals - but helps to maintain and develop cardio respiratory fitness.

The major benefit to exercising in the water is the protection it offers for your joints.

When you run, every time your foot hits the pavement, a shock equivalent to five times your body weight will travel up your legs and into your spine.

Exercising in water eliminates this shock impact, protecting your joints. Experts believe that the buoyancy of the water can reduce the impact on your joints by over 85 per cent.

Many athletes often train in water when they are recovering from an injury so they can still train their muscles but without putting extra stress on a weak joint.

Do you get a better workout?

Just because exercising in water is softer on joints does not mean it is a softer workout. Working out in water means your muscles are forced to work harder, burning more fat and toning them up faster than land-based exercises. This is because they are fighting the water every time they move.

The extra pressure of the water on your legs also pushes more blood back up into the top half of your body. This makes your heart work harder, raising your heartbeat and burning even more calories during your water workout.

Can anyone do aqua-exercises?

Aqua-exercises are ideal for somebody returning to exercising after an injury or a long period of inactivity because they are so gentle on your joints.

They are also recommended for older people as the water gives them greater movement and flexibility than they would have on dry land.

New mums and those with lower back problems can also benefit from aqua-exercises as the water supports them, taking pressure off the spine.

Do I need to be a swimmer?

You do not have to be an Olympic swimmer to take part in aqua-exercises either. The majority of aqua-exercises take place in water no deeper than chest height and your feet will always be able to touch the floor. Some of the exercises could even help boost your confidence in the water, improving your swimming technique.

Aqua exercises and pregnancy

If you are pregnant or suffer from arthritis, you must mention this to your instructor before beginning any aqua-exercises.

Pregnancy can cause some of the joints to become more mobile - particularly in the pelvis - so you can injure yourself if you are not careful. Arthritis sufferers can also damage their joints if they push them too strenuously.

Aqua jogging - What is it?

Aqua jogging is the latest trend in aqua-exercising and aqua jogging clubs and classes are now appearing all over the UK.

Aqua jogging involves wearing a special aqua jogging belt made of foam that straps onto your back. The belt works like a life jacket, keeping you buoyant and floating in the water.

Beginners should start off in shallower water, but the aim is end up in water that reaches your neck for a really intense workout. The belt helps keep you upright as you run on the spot, supported by the water.

Keeping your head and chest lifted, your shoulders above your hips and stomach and buttock muscles drawn in tight, co-ordinate your hand and leg movements as though you are jogging on dry land.

Start with a few minutes every day and build up to 20 minute sessions three or four times a week. To increase the resistance and intensity during your workout, cup your hands and push down with your feet whilst jogging. Also try and focus on how hard you are kicking rather than how high.

Why is it better in the water?

Aqua jogging immediately eliminates any of the pressure on your joints associated with jogging on dry land.

Apart from burning extra calories, boosting your heart rate and increasing the intensity of your workout, the added pressure and massaging effect of the water on your thighs can help eliminate cellulite, although this has not yet been scientifically proven.

Aqua jogging is frequently used by athletes during periods of rehabilitation and is a central part of many physiotherapy treatments for patients recovering from back problems.

This article is courtesy of Running4Women.com

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