Jump in, folks...the water's fine!

There is nothing more refreshing than a swim on a nice, warm summer day.

Even if you don't know how to swim, performing water exercises requires no swimming skills, and usually incorporates some of the same body movement. Non-swimmers may initially be a little afraid of water, but their success and enjoyment of water exercise soon overcome the fear, and many of them add swimming lessons to their exercise regimen.

How much does water weigh?

Water's resistance varies according to depth and speed, which you can always control. One gallon of water weighs approximately 8 pounds. When you swing one leg through the water, you are meeting approximately 37 pounds of resistance. The faster you move your leg, the harder you work against this resistance. With this said, water training can be a very efficient way to achieve fitness and almost any activity can be enhanced with aquatics.

Types of water exercise

Water walking or jogging is performed in waist- or chest-deep water. Walking or running in the water offers many of the same benefits that you gain on land but far fewer impact-related injuries. If you are uncomfortable immersing yourself in water, this is one activity that you can do with head and shoulders above water.

Deep-water jogging simulates land jogging and running at a depth where the feet do not touch the bottom of the water. Flotation belts and devices are used with various drills, methods and running styles. Swimming proficiency is typically advised.

Water aerobics incorporates full body rhythmic moves for 20 minutes or more in shallow or deep water. The purpose is to provide cardiovascular benefits. An adaptation of movement and calisthenics utilizes the resistance and buoyancy of water. The aerobic format usually includes warm-up, active stretching, cardiovascular portion, conditioning portion and cool down stretching.

Kick-boxing and boot-camp class styles are also incorporated at some facilities. Deep-water classes are performed using flotation belts. Full utilization of aqua belts help to maximize toning and strengthening of midsection while increasing cardiovascular endurance and flexibility.

Water yoga, Pilates, and tai chi are three mind-body classes that are usually performed in shallow water. They focus on body awareness, flexibility, balance and fluidity from the inside out.

Water toning and strength training classes use movement of upper and lower body utilizing water resistance and/or equipment, such as foam pool-noodles, to strengthen, firm and sculpt the muscles. A pool noodle workout is a functional way to use an everyday water toy. The noodle is used to stabilize, provide buoyancy and add resistance to enhance the workout. These workouts usually are performed in shallow water.

Lap swimming offers self-motivated aerobic activity on an individual basis and involves continuous swim stroke activity for the entire pool length. Typically, public pools and swimming beaches with floating docks have designated times for lap swim. If lanes are full and you have to share, pick one with someone of equal skill level as you.

Swim lessons for adults or children are usually available at most public pools. The classes are divided by age and skill level. For example, a novice swimmer will work on floating, gliding, water adjustment skills, basic arm stroke and the basics of coordinating the front crawl-stroke and elementary backstroke.

Swimming and water exercise in open water is also a great option. Lake Washington is literally the backyard for some of you!

Remember, safety comes first:

Never swim alone. Always use the buddy system.

Water should be clean and free of obstacles.

Know the depth and temperature before jumping in. Water below 70 degrees will feel cold to most swimmers. Your body temperature drops far more quickly in water than it does on land, and if you're swimming you're using energy and losing body heat even faster than if you were keeping still. If you feel your body start to shiver or your muscles cramp up, get out of the water quickly; it doesn't take long for hypothermia to set in.

Pace yourself. Make sure you have adequate energy to return to shore. There are no rest stops or sides of the pool to take a breather when swimming in open water. Be comfortable treading water and/or floating on your back in case of cramping or other emergency.

The best way to achieve good health and a better quality of life is to find the activities you enjoy and will stick with. Working out in the water is a great way to cross train your body and to reduce your risk of injuries.

Certified personal trainer and educator Joy Shultz can be reached at editor@sdistrictjournal.com. Shultz posts weekly fitness tips on her website, www.joyspersonaltraining.com.[[In-content Ad]]