Pool Aerobics

by Stephan J. Smith, DC

If you’re trying to lose weight…wait…especially if you’re trying to lose weight, exercise in a pool can be a great way to get moving while reducing the stress to your joints. People who have had injuries to joints or those who have degenerative joint disease can reduce further injury to those joints in the buoyancy of a swimming pool. The best type of exercise to do in a pool is an aerobic exercise that raises heart rate. This is one good way to keep your cardiovascular system conditioned. Leg lifts, running in place, bicycle motions, etc., are all good examples. Don’t forget the obvious as well, which would be swimming laps or around the circumference of the pool.

Water makes you buoyant, which means that the water is supporting a portion of your weight. This allows you to exercise more vigorously without the added strain to joints, tendons and ligaments, which is why it can also be great for someone who is considerably overweight. People who are very overweight often feel trapped by their own bodies. They want to lose weight and they know that exercise would help them do that, but their own body weight prevents them from starting an exercise program. Water exercise is a great way to begin. As you lose the extra pounds, gain strength and find it easier to move around, you can start to add other, more traditional forms of exercise.

This brings me to one major caveat. While pool exercise can be aerobically beneficial, it should NOT be used exclusively, especially if you’re older, and here’s why. While water makes you more buoyant and takes pressure off joints, it also takes pressure off of the bones themselves. Bones require weight-bearing exercise to stay strong and maintain their mineral content. In our modern day sedentary lifestyles, we don’t get the weight-bearing exercise we need, especially as we age. Our activity levels often drop and the trend towards ever more “convenient” appliances and motorized everything only compounds the problem. Even if you’re older, even if you have joint problems, some weight-bearing exercise is an essential component of your regimen. No amount of calcium supplementation will maintain bone density and taking a bioactive drug to strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis comes with many risks.

So, the bottom line is, get some aerobic exercise in the pool, but get out of the pool and lift some weights too. Your body will thank you for it and you’ll gain confidence and self esteem as you keep your bones strong and lose that extra fat. You can do it… you CAN do it…now get up and go DO IT!

Guest post by Dr. Stephan J. Smith. Dr. Smith is a wellness expert and Chiropractor in Brighton, Michigan. Along with Dr. Vladimir J. Brajak, he co-owns Advantage Family Chiropractic and is available to speak to your group, organization or company on several popular wellness topics. For more information or to schedule a talk local to Brighton, contact us at 810-288-5823.