YMCA Healthy Living Magazine, powered by n4 food and health (Spring 2014) - Page 17

YOU TOLD US: “I would like to read about the benefits of water/aqua exercise.” Footwear Many people often do aqua exercise without wearing anything on their feet and this is fine. One of the issues that you may find is that the pool bottom is often slippery. This can be frustrating, as it will be hard to get enough grip on the bottom to propel or stabilise the body. Also, if you require arch and foot support in everyday life, you will feel the necessity to have the same when exercising in the pool. Many people wear socks, or non slip socks – they have little rubberised sections on the bottom of them to avoid slipping. The alternative is to purchase shoes that surfers use to protect their feet at the beach. Regardless of what you end up getting, make sure that they fit snugly on your feet, so that they do not slip off or move around once you start exercising. Depth of water If you are new to exercising in water, then move to a depth that is in between chest and waist depth. This is the optimal depth to increase heart rate and perform the movements at the right speed. If you go any deeper than chest depth, the exercises need to be adapted to cater for this, and often a buoyancy belt is required. If you go shallower than waist depth, it is difficult to keep your arms under the water, and also the impact with the bottom of the pool increases considerably. It can also place stress on your joints and lower back. How often? Water workouts can be performed every day! Most sessions last approximately 45 minutes. The beautiful thing about water is that the muscle contractions that are performed in water are very different than what happens when you exercise on land. When moving through water, every action exercises the body. For example, when performing a scooping action with an arm across the body, the arm will have to work in both directions to move against the resistance in the water. This constant effort against the resistance of the water does not make you sore, but it does burn a lot of calories. It is quite unusual for people to get sore the next day, so it is fine to exercise on a daily basis. turbulence, which will make the exercise little harder. Also the amount of surface area exposed to the water will determine the level of intensity. The greater the surface area, the more resistance through the water. Slicing movements and punching hands are great for faster type activities, as the reduced surface area allow the arm to move faster through the water. Finally, if you want to work hard, avoid relaxed, soft fingers and wrists. This will decrease the caloric expenditure and also the ability to move effectively through the water. Technique Hand and arm movements play a very important role with both coordination and intensity in the water. To maintain an upright and stable stance, arms and legs often move in opposite directions, very much like walking on land. When arms and legs move in the same direction, your body will destabilise and it will feel awkward to perform the movements. Finger placement will often dictate the intensity of the exercise. Splayed open fingers, and cupped hands will create SPRING 2014 YMCA HEALTHY LIVING MAGAZINE 17