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wikiHow to Exercise in Water

Two Methods:Swimming Laps for ExerciseDoing Water Resistance ActivitiesCommunity Q&A

Water exercise is a fun way to boost your cardiovascular health and strength. It’s also a great way to work on flexibility The water's buoyancy and resistance, which is twelve times greater than air, allow you to exercise in a no-impact environment. A water exercise routine several days per week can be an excellent form of exercise for individuals who have back pain, arthritis, diabetes, obesity and injuries to the lower body. You can exercise in water by swimming laps or doing water resistance activities.[1]

Swimming Laps for Exercise

  1. 1
    Gather swimming gear. Get or pull out a swimsuit that you have. You can wear any type of suit to swim, but you may want to consider getting one that competitive swimmer wears. This can provide greater mobility and comfort. Buy other accessories you may want including:[2]
    • Goggles
    • Swim cap
    • Ear plugs
    • Nose plug
    • Aquatic shoes for open-water swimming
  2. 2
    Take swimming lessons. Have a professional give you swimming lessons if you want a refresher on how to perform different strokes or have never swum before. Taking private or class lessons can ensure you use proper form while you swim for optimal cardio and strength results.
    • Look for classes at a local recreational center, pool, or health club. Ask your swim instructor to teach several different strokes using proper technique.
  3. 3
    Pace yourself. Allow yourself time to gradually build up your swimming fitness. Start with 30 minutes of swimming 5-6 days a week and gradually increase as you get stronger and have better endurance. Giving yourself time to build up water fitness can minimize your risk of injury or overdoing it.[3]
  4. 4
    Warm up your body. Perform some light stretches such as shoulder shrugs or knee bends for 10 minutes before your get into the water. Slip into the water and warm up for about 10 minutes more or a time you can safely introduce movement to your body.[4] Some different examples of what your warm might be include:[5]
    • 100 meter/ yard swim, 100 meter/ yard kick, 100 meter pull, 100 meter/ yard swim
    • 400 meter free swim
    • 10-15 minute of anything you feel like doing in the pool
  5. 5
    Do your main set. After your warm up, start your main set, which will really train your cardiovascular system and muscles. Focus each workout on one of the following goals: speed, distance, and technique/ strength. Changing up your main set goals every day can help fully develop your body and keep you from getting bored. An example of each type of workout include:[6]
    • Speed: 3 x 100 yard/ meters hard swim, follow each 100 with 50 meters/ yards easy swim; 10 x 50 meters/ yards at maximum effort; 2 x 200 yards/ meters and descending speeds, follow each 200 with 100 meters/ yards easy swim
    • Distance: 4 x 200 meter/ yard swim at moderate pace with 20 seconds rest between each 200; 6 x 100 meter/ yard at moderate pace focusing on good technique; 4 x 300 meters/ yards at moderate pace
    • Technique/ strength: 4 x 100 meters pulling; 4 x 50 meters/ yards one-arm swimming; 8 x 100 slow swim breathing every 3-5 strokes on both sides
  6. 6
    Vary your strokes. Mix up your workouts by doing different types of strokes. Incorporating these different body movements can work different muscle groups, increase your endurance and help you get a better feel for the water. Use any of the following strokes during your warm up, main set, and cool down:[7]
    • Backstroke
    • Breaststroke
    • Freestyle
    • Butterfly
    • Side stroke
  7. 7
    Build strength and technique with training aids. Try out different gadgets that your local pool has to further enhance your training. Using training aids such as pull buoys or flippers can build targeted strength and improve stroke technique. The different types of training aids you can use while swimming include:[8]
    • Kickboards
    • Flippers
    • Pull buoys
    • Resistance gloves
    • Hand paddles
  8. 8
    Cool down. Swim an easy 100-300 meters/ yards freestyle to warm down your body. Cooling down can reduce lactic acid in your muscles and help prevent injury.[9]

Doing Water Resistance Activities

  1. 1
    Join a water fitness class. Ask your local pool, recreation center, or gym if they offer group water fitness classes. Try different types of classes that use the water’s resistance to build your strength and endurance. Participating with other people in water fitness classes can make exercising in water more fun and keep you motivated. Some of the water fitness classes you can join include:[10]
    • Water aerobics
    • Aqua zumba[11]
    • Aqua barre
    • Aqua yoga
  2. 2
    Walk through water. Purchase or borrow a flotation belt that allows you to float upright at shoulder height. Put on your belt and gently slide into either end of the pool. Deeper water will allow your joints and muscles less impact and a greater range of motion. Stand straight with your shoulders back and chest lifted and then stride forward for as many steps as you like. You’re your abs and core muscles engaged to maintain your stability.[12]
    • Mix up your walking routine with any of the following types of steps: marching steps, gliding sideways, or walking backwards.
    • Add weighted water gloves or webbed gloves for arm-strengthening moves.[13]
  3. 3
    Go for a run. Strap on a flotation belt or hold water weights to keep you afloat. Lean slightly forward with a straight upper body and chest lifted. Then bring up one knee to a 90-degree angle and push it down through the water with the same foot. Calculate your workout in time, not in miles. Aim for 20-30 minutes when you first start and gradually increase your time as you get fitter.[14]
  4. 4
    Tread water. Hop into water that is about chest to shoulder deep. Release your feet from the bottom and kick your legs in a beater-type motion. At the same time, cup your hands and scull them back and forth. Perform these as quickly as you can for 30-60 seconds and then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat the exercise as many times as you like.[15]
    • Hold light weights while treading water for an added strength boost and calorie burn.
    • Tread water at a slower pace for an extended period of time to build endurance.
  5. 5
    Paddle on a watercraft. You don’t always have to be in the water to get the benefits of water exercise. Instead, use different types of watercraft you have to operate and steer with paddles. Doing this can build endurance, but also strengthen your abs, core, back, and arms. Try the following paddle-driving activities for exercise and fun:[16]
    • Kayaking
    • Canoeing
    • Stand-up paddleboarding
    • Surfing
    • Waterskiing
    • Wakeboarding

Community Q&A

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    • Wear waterproof sunscreen if you are doing water fitness activities in an outdoor pool or body of water.
    • Make your water workouts more fun by inviting friends to join you.


    • Speak to your doctor before doing any exercises in water. They can let you know if you are healthy enough for aquatic fitness. The doctor can advise you on swimming strokes that you should avoid, or equipment that might be useful.

    Things You'll Need

    • Swimsuit
    • Towel
    • Pool shoes or flip flops
    • Swim cap
    • Swimming goggles
    • Aquatic shoes
    • Swimming belt
    • Water weights
    • Resistance gloves
    • Sunscreen

    Article Info

    Categories: Cardio Exercises

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