The notion “Aqua Fitness” brings images of retired persons in bad fitting bathing suits. But if your joints are sore or you’re just not loving your workout anymore, here are five reasons why you should consider hitting the pool for some strength training.

1. It Is Not Boring

There are only so many times you can watch the same episode of The Big Bang Theory while speeding on the treadmill before you get bored. Aqua Fitness classes are diverse in nature — in people and activities — so it gives you a chance to not only work out, but to get out and hang out with other people.

“I love the people I work with in this class,” says Captain Ken Schryver, senior fitness instructor in the Enhanced Fitness program at the Founders Park Pool, Islamorada, Florida. “They all appreciate how lucky they are to be in such a beautiful environment and doing activities which make them healthier. It’s very enjoyable to see participants having fun in the water while helping their bodies to amplify it’s abilities to heal itself.”

According to the article Benefits of Group Exercise published by the American College of Sports Medicine on January 20, 2012,  written by Shawn Dolan, Ph.D., R.D., CSSD, “Group exercise offers a workout for all levels, ranging from beginner to advanced. Participants do not need to know how to develop a safe and effective workout or which machines to use or for how long; it is already done for them. They simply have to show up with a positive attitude, participate, and most importantly, have fun.”

2. It Gives Your Joints A Break, While Still Burning Crazy Amounts Of Calories

According to livestrong.com, a 185 pound person can burn up to 356 calories per hour doing aqua fitness.

Schryver, a clinically trained occupational therapist and a graduate of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, agrees.

“Water fitness is so much less traumatic to your joints than land based exercise. All activities done in the water are low impact. The buoyancy of the water makes your body feel much lighter and more agile than when exposed to gravity.”

By not pounding the pavement, your shins and knees will thank you.

3. It Shapes And Tones Without Using Heavy Weights

The buoyant weights used for aqua fitness are light, fun and don’t hurt your hands when you grip them. But don’t worry, the water has a natural resistance so it is still a very challenging strength training workout.

The weights are so much fun to use that the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research dedicated an entire slide show to them.

4. It Encompasses Strength Training, Cardio Training, Calisthenics and Meditation All In One Work Out

Schryver, who just added meditation into his comprehensive class feels “class should not be just water aerobics, but exercise for the entire body, joints, bones, muscles, and of course circulatory system.” He added the meditation component “because so many people die from stress related incidents, i.e. heart attacks, strokes, etc. It has been scientifically proven that meditation can lower blood pressure, lower your respiration, and help you to be less stressed therefore more able to stave off these problems.”

In a study published by the Center for Disease Control on March 6, 2013, water-based exercise helps with chronic illness and mental health.

“For people with arthritis, it improves use of affected joints without worsening symptoms. People with rheumatoid arthritis have more health improvements after participating in hydrotherapy than with other activities . Water-based exercise also improves the use of affected joints and decreases pain from osteoarthritis.”

“Water-based exercise improves mental health. Swimming can improve mood in both men and women . For people with fibromyalgia, it can decrease anxiety and exercise therapy in warm water can decrease depression and improve mood. Water-based exercise can improve the health of mothers and their unborn children and has a positive effect on the mother’s mental health. Parents of children with developmental disabilities find that recreational activities, such as swimming, improve family connections .”

Nancy Price, and Aqua Fitness regular, finds the class helps with some of her medical issues.

“When I am having discomfort from an ongoing gastro-intestinal issue I have, going to class actually relieves that discomfort,” says Price.  “I’m regaining my overall body strength, stamina, and mental/physical sense of well-being. And I’m having FUN!! That really is a preventative health benefit!”

5. It’s Refreshing

“Obviously, it’s also much cooler to exercise in an aquatic environment,” Schryver says. “When it’s hot people might not want to jog or even walk, but they will work out in a pool happily.”

Plus, since you’re in the pool there is no yucky sweat.

“I like how much better I feel, both mentally and physically, after attending the class (especially on days I didn’t really feel like going). The more often I go to class the longer that good vibe lasts,” Price says. “Also seeing my body get stronger and more fit is a great perk!”

To check out Aqua Fitness, check out  a local pool or health facility near you.

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