Are you contemplating your health and fitness goals for the New Year?  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity (or a combination of both) preferably spread throughout the week.  These guidelines support the connection between physical activity, overall health and well-being, disease prevention and quality of life.  Of course, this time of year many people focus on weight loss goals.  While there is no “magic pill” or “magic diet” to help you achieve weight loss, scientific studies show that eating a reduced calorie, nutritious diet and increasing your physical activity is a proven way to burn fat, build lean muscle, and start losing those extra pounds. 

The water provides an excellent environment for your workouts.  There are many advantages to exercising in the water vs. land-based exercise programs: 

  1. Less joint impact: the buoyancy of the water reduces joint loading, which is particularly beneficial after joint replacement as well as to help manage chronic pain. 
  2. Total body training: Water provides multi-directional resistance.  You will burn twice the number of calories in the same amount of time because your movements are not assisted by gravity. The resistance of the water helps you build strength and stamina. 
  3. Stay cool: The water temperature is typically lower than your body temperature. You can burn hundreds of calories and feel like you “never broke a sweat.” 
  4. Easier range of movement: In chest deep water, the body handles only 25-35% of its weight (approximately).  People who are over weight are able to move much more freely and with greater range of motion in the water than they can on land. 
  5. Cardiovascular benefits: with water exercise you can strengthen your heart muscles with a lower heart rate and it improves the oxygen delivery to your muscles. The hydrostatic pressure of the water on your body helps to regulate blood pressure.  It also massages and comforts all parts of your body while your exercise so you don’t feel as fatigued as you do on land. 
  6. It’s good for your spirit: working out in the water is fun!  Who doesn’t enjoy splashing around in the pool?  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put forth a convincing link between water-based exercise and mental health.  Research showed that aquatic fitness programs were impactful on the moods of men and women – for lowering stress and depression.  It triggers endorphins in the brain which are natural “feel good” hormones.  And if you have an indoor pool, you can exercise in the water year-round. Aquatic group fitness classes give you the opportunity to socialize and make new friends. 

Whether you’ve resolved to lose weight, control your blood pressure, prevent diseases, get more active, or get more social in the new year, the water can definitely assist you in reaching your health goals.  To get you started, here are 3 simple workouts that you can do in the pool today.  (Be sure to add a 3-4 minute warm up and warm down to any workout.) 


This can be as simple as jogging from one end of the pool to the other. Bring your knees up higher to increase the intensity of the exercise. Be sure to keep your arms under the water for the benefit of upper body resistance. The purpose is to get the heart rate up and keep it up, so be sure to challenge yourself.


With a kickboard, hold it out in front of you and flutter kick your legs to propel you back and forth across the pool. Float on your stomach with your head above the water while holding on to the side of the pool with your hands. Flutter kick with your legs.  Whichever way you do it, kick at a steady tempo that doesn’t tire you out too quickly but also gets the heart pumping.


While your legs go in and out like a jumping jack on land, keep your arms under the water and only raise them to just under the water’s surface. Your hands should touch down as you spread your legs. Change the exercise by bringing your arms slightly in front of you and touching your palms together.  Continue the jacks with your legs but bring the arms straight in front of you at chest level and closing the palms together.  When you bring the legs in and out, add a knee tuck in between each movement. You can also increase intensity by adding a plyometric bounce off the pool floor when your feet touch down.

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