Connie Lagerhausen - Aquatic Fitness Professional » Topics » Take the Plunge! How including a water-based fitness class in your routine can enhance your on-land training.

  • Take the Plunge! How including a water-based fitness class in your routine can enhance your on-land training.

    Posted by Connie Lagerhausen February 25, 2014 - 2,883 views - 0 comments - 0 likes - #Water Fitness  #water exercise  #water-based fitness class  #Connie Harrison Lagerhausen 

    Recently published in the April 1, 2013  edition of Sports & Fitness Clubs Executive Briefing

    How including a water-based fitness class in your routine can enhance your on-land training.


    by Connie Harrison Lagerhausen

    Adult Aquatics Specialist, Waterworks on Wheels, Inc. and Fitness Forum Health Club  Chandler


    Water fitness classes burn as many calories as their land-based counter parts, although they might not feel as taxing. According to the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA), two factors work to increase your effort, while minimizing perceived exertion. First, the increased density of water makes you work harder to do the same movements you do on land. Second, the cooling effect of water and the way it supports your joints and body weight lessens the perception of the effort made. Comparing land-based versus water exercise, AEA affirms that you use more oxygen exercising in water, but that you increase your heart rate more in land-based exercise due to the cooling effect that water has on the body.


    The amount of calories you burn in a water class depend on various factors, but on average one will burn between 145 and 380 calories in 30 minutes of aquatic exercise. How much you weigh, how hard you work, and the duration or your exercise all contribute to overall calorie burn.


    If you weigh 150 lbs, you can burn approximately 145 calories in 30 minutes.
    If you weigh 200 lbs, you can burn approximately 190 calories in 30 minutes.
    If you weigh 250 lbs, you can burn approximately 240 calories in 30 minutes.
    If you weigh 300 lbs, you can burn approximately 285 calories in 30 minutes.
    If you weigh 350 lbs, you can burn approximately 335 calories in 30 minutes.
    If you weigh 400 lbs, you can burn approximately 380 calories in 30 minutes.


    Calorie calculations from equation: (METs x 3.5 x body weight in kg)/200 = calories/minute


    Evolution of Water Exercise

    Traditionally, water fitness has been perceived as a course of fitness for pregnant women, seniors and those with injuries, but water classes are really appropriate for and can be challenging to anyone.  Water exercise does provide a way for people with joint injuries, arthritis, diabetes or back problems to successfully complete a cardiovascular and strength workout, yet water aerobics can take on a variety of forms that appeal to healthy, uninhibited fitness enthusiasts. Translating land versions of boot camp, Zumba, Pilates, and even running into pool-based versions of these popular formats, water exercise is quickly beginning to appeal to the masses. Adding an endurance swim workout into a weekly exercise regimen is another available (and effective) option to enjoy the advantages of water exercise.


    Advantages of Water Exercise

    While any aerobic activity helps you burn calories and build cardiovascular health, the aquatic environment has always been given a bad rap for its bone-building properties, and according to most -- the jury is still out. However, a recent study from the Wingate Institute in Netanya, Israel indicates that women who frequently swim laps have greater leg bone mass than women who don’t swim at all. While weight-bearing exercises are without a doubt the best way to strengthen your bones, swimming and water fitness shouldn't be discounted. Just as with land-based classes, water fitness classes provide cardiovascular endurance. The difference (and advantage) is that water-based exercise can be enjoyed without the impact that comes along with floor-based classes or running. In fact, some programs that are too intense for certain populations on land become quite manageable in the pool. Water reduces the stress on joints by about 90%, so soreness following an aquatics workout is exponentially decreased while participants still receive the same bone-building benefits. Significantly overweight people also benefit from water classes because they can burn calories without putting tremendous strain on their bodies. Beginners and those who are shy in a gym or group exercise environment may also appreciate water classes because the majority of exercises are performed underwater and are less "on display”. Even runners have found that working out in the pool, either running or just easy swimming, helps to aid in their recovery from hard workouts or a race.


    Misconceptions of Water Exercise

    Water-based classes often bear the stigma of being easy and for old ladies. If you apply the same intensity in the water that you apply to your land-based class, you may be surprised at how challenged you feel. The water changes movement and makes everything harder -- applying 12 to 14 times more resistance against the muscles! Going as deep as you can in the pool even makes the aquatic environment more difficult in terms of balance and coordination, so modifications can be made to suit every ability level.


    Applications of Water Exercise

    Consider incorporating a water fitness class as cross-training to help you beat boredom and to avoid the overuse of injuries. Recognize that your heart rate registers lower in the water, so it is important to use perceived exertion or effort to determine the intensity of your water workout. Whether you join an aqua fitness class, swim laps, or get involved in water running – take the plunge!



    Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Whitt MC, et al. Compendium of physical activities: an update of activity codes and MET intensities. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 32, No. 9, Suppl., pp. S498–S516, 2000.

    Calorie calculations from equation: (METs x 3.5 x body weight in kg)/200 = calories/minute

    Aquatic Exercise Association, (2010) Aquatic Fitness Professional Manual. Sixth Addition: Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL

    Br J Sports Med 2004;38:461-465 doi:10.1136/bjsm.2003.005041,

    Canadian Aquafitness Leaders Alliance Inc. (CALA): Aquafit Benefits





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