6 Water Exercises to Try

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The benefits

Common age-related problems such as arthritis and osteoporosis can make exercising difficult. The good news: Water-based workouts are a kinder, gentler way to improve your cardiovascular and muscular strength. The exercises are performed vertically in shallow water that ranges from waist to chest deep. Among the benefits: Water buoys joints and muscles, so there’s less stress on the body as well as a reduced risk of falling.

Getting started

You can look for a formal water-activity class led by certified fitness instructors, such as at your local YMCA, community center, health club, or another fitness facility. Or you can try the following exercises on your own. Always work out with a partner for safety and check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

  1. High step

Walk back and forth across the pool in chest-high water, lifting your knees high. Do 2 sets of 5 laps.

  1. Shoulder diagonal

Stand in shoulder-height water with your left arm at a 45-degree angle at your side. Move your arm up and inward across your body, toward the surface of the water. (Bending your elbow slightly during movement is fine.) Return to the start position and repeat. Perform 2 sets of 10 repetitions. Repeat with your right arm.

  1. Knee cycling

Prop yourself on the ledge of the pool, with your back to the ledge. Move your legs in a cycling motion. Perform 1 set for 2 minutes, once a day.

  1. Sideways gait

Stand in chest-deep water. Step sideways to the right, keeping your toes pointed forward. Continue stepping to the right until you reach the edge of the pool. Perform 1 set for 5 minutes, once a day. Repeat in the opposite direction.

  1. Hip flex

Stand in waist-deep water, with your back against the wall. Place your arms on the ledge for support. Lift your left leg up, keeping your knee straight and toes pointed. Hold the position for 5 seconds. Lower and repeat with your right leg. Perform 2 sets of 15 repetitions, once a day.

  1. Knee flex and extension

Prop yourself on the pool ledge with your back to the wall. Alternately bend and straighten your knees. Do 2 sets of 10 repetitions for each knee. This exercise may also be performed while sitting on the steps in the shallow end of the pool.