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Low Impact Exercise Water Aerobics

Updated on August 28, 2012


If you're looking for the best overall low impact exercise program that you can participate in, consider water aerobics as your workout method. Not only will you be surprised how incredibly less punishing this form of exercise is on your body but you won't believe some of the benefits.

Globally people invest in exercise equipment, join gyms or hit the pavement for hours of grueling exercise when there's an alternative that is relatively inexpensive and for the most part, pain free.

Swimming has long been known as a tremendous way to stay in shape and keep heart healthy but more and more people are turning to water aerobics as their workout of choice because of the many attractive benefits it offers with none of the side effects of other exercise programs.

Let's take a look at the many facets of water aerobics and you'll discover why this is quickly becoming so popular in all age groups and across the board in terms of any medical conditions.



No matter if you're a casual exerciser or you're totally into high level physical fitness training, water aerobics or swimming can replace any fitness program and give you at least the same if not more of a workout.

How does water aerobics compare to other exercise programs?

  • Any form of swim exercise uses almost every major muscle group in your body
  • It puts a tremendous amount of demand on heart and lungs
  • Water aerobics helps you build muscle strength and endurance
  • It improves posture and flexibility
  • Swim exercising is great for pregnant women
  • You can do water aerobics even if you've never worked out in your life
  • People with arthritis, osteoporosis and fibromyalgia benefit greatly from water exercise
  • Runners can achieve the same level of workout by running in the pool
  • Water exercise does not put strain on tissues and joints like running, land-based aerobics or weight training but it achieves the same goals

  • FACT: Because of the buoyancy factor, there isn't another more injury-free form of exercise to be found.



  • Did you know that in the water, your body weight is 1/10th of what it is on land? So if you weigh 150 pounds on land, you only weigh 15 pounds when you're immersed in water that is up to your chin
  • You can exercise in water repeatedly because there is so little impact
  • Moving through water creates 12 times more resistance than moving through air
  • Water aerobics are recommended for pregnant women to tone muscles needed in childbirth. It is said that water aerobics can lessen labor time and need for meds
  • For people who are overweight, water aerobics puts you on the map to begin high level exercise right now before losing any weight
  • Your resting heart rate is 10 beats per minute less in water and your maximum heart beat in water decreases by at least 10 to 30 beats per minute
  • Water aerobics helps get rid of excess water and salt in the body naturally
  • Swimming exercise is the best way to rehab after surgery or an injury
  • Water aerobics allows your heart to work less hard and more efficiently while affording you the same workout as on land
  • You can avoid all that sweating and huffing and puffing and achieve the same result

  • FACT: Water exercise is more effective than land exercise for burning calories. Depending on how hard you work out, you can burn 400-700 calories per hour.


In my deep running water aerobics class, we had several pregnant women. After being medically cleared by their OB/GYN, they brought a note to the pool instructor who then helped them design a program most conducive to their pregnant state.

I should note here that these were not newly pregnant women. Most had been in water aerobics for months and were in tip-top shape - and most were at least 7 months pregnant.

To say that they were physically fit would be an understatement. They looked fantastic and they claimed that it helped them with the common discomforts of pregnancy such as low back pain, leg swelling, fatigue and even food cravings!

Unless there is a medical contraindication to exercise, swim aerobics is the best form of exercise during and after pregnancy. It helps women stay in good physical condition and keep their weight down during the pregnancy. Then it helps them get back into their best shape after the pregnancy.

Since again, it is low impact and lowers the heart rate, it is an excellent form of exercise for the mother and the baby growing within!

  • FACT: Water aerobics provides psychological benefits as well as physical fitness benefits to the participant in terms of total relaxation as well as even some socialization pluses.


What about the person who wants a heavy duty resistance training workout? Is that possible doing swim aerobics? You bet it is. As noted above, since there is 12 times more resistance in the water than on land in the air, you can ramp up your workout to include any manner of resistance training you desire. And all with the added benefit of no stress on your bones, joints and soft tissues.

There are all kinds of swimming resistance aids that you can use in the water to increase resistance and allow you to train at the same level as on land.

Just some of the many devices available for swim aerobic training:

  • Dumbbells
  • Hand weights
  • Noodles
  • Kick boards
  • Foot weights
  • Foot socks
  • Webbed hand gloves
  • Underwater treadmill

These are just some of the ways that you can turn up the intensity and cross train in the water. The nice thing about water workouts is that again, you can work out far longer and more times per day than on land.

  • FACT: Because of the natural resistance of water, just walking in water, you can burn twice as many calories per hour as you would walking the same amount of time on land.


The best abdominal exercise can be found in a pool. That wouldn't seem to be the case but in fact, you wouldn't believe the amount of sit-ups or crunches you can do without feeling a thing.

Again, in water, due to the buoyancy factor, your body weighs less so those murderous sit-ups that kill you on land are a snap to do in water.

You can do vertical crunches, you can do side crunches, you can do horizontal crunches.

Core strengthening is easily performed in water because it can be done without the pain. You naturally have better range of motion and thus can perform exercises that you probably couldn't on land or certainly not as many.

Even if you have arthritis or other debilitating conditions, the float quality of your body will enable you to tone muscles such as your abdominals which in turn strengthens your back and torso, and all without hardly noticing it. You can do multiple reps without killing your abdomen, your back or other parts of your body.

And for those who say that there isn't a workout unless it involves jogging, you can have your cake and eat it too. Deep water running is just as effective as running on land except that it's probably 100% better for your bones and joints. You can simulate your running style in the water and accomplish all that you could accomplish with land-based running.

  • FACT: Swim aerobics just as any form of exercise boosts your mood and your energy level. More so than any other form of exercise though, water exercise is extremely relaxing.

Deep Water Running


Having been an active participant for more than a year in water aerobics, I can attest that this is the best form of exercise anyone can do. The reason that I think it works is that anyone can do it, no matter what medical conditions or limitations they may have.

You can be male or female, in the best of health or coming back from an injury or operation. It doesn't matter who you are or what you have going for you or against you. Anyone can exercise in water and benefit...even disabled persons.

You can also work out at your own pace and easily ramp up your workout if you think you need to do more toning or burn more calories. You can work out several times a day and not be overly fatigued. You can swim laps, jog or do many land-based exercises underwater.

For instance you can do:

  • Crunches and sit-ups
  • Pull-ups
  • Jogging or walking
  • Swim laps
  • Squats
  • Biceps and triceps curls
  • Thigh master work
  • Core stabilization
  • Meditation and relaxation exercises
  • Resistance training

In short, water aerobics or water exercise in any form is something that most people can engage in for relatively little cash outlay compared to regular gym memberships and reap the enormous benefits in a very short time.

Muscle toning and shaping begins to be evident after only a few weeks of water aerobics. Circulation and breathing improve almost overnight and fatigue diminishes the more you participate.

Especially if you swim outside for part of the year in a water aerobics class, you'll quickly be addicted to the energizing effects of water and sun. Think of all that natural vitamin D3 you're getting!

If you've been looking for an exercise program that's just right for you, I don't think there is a better overall conditioning or training program out there that's more effective than water aerobics.

Check out your local pool today and see what you can see. No matter what condition you're in, you won't be sorry you invested your time in water exercise.


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    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 5 years ago from Washington

      EZ Swim--Actually I played old lady soccer as I called it for years and that was great exercise and then did usual stuff like walking, running, etc. I just had not thought about swimming until my back started bothering me--I'd always loved swimming but for some reason I just didn't think of it.

      I think you're right--as it gains more popularity maybe there will be a uniform although I see all kinds--from classic bathing suits to weighted suits in the more advanced classes. I think the drawback for many is getting wet and with women it seems to be the hair dyes~ But again, I see pregnant women and on-land runners to ladies and men into their 70s ande 80s--so it definitely is an exercise medium for anyone!

    • EZ Swim Fitness profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 5 years ago from Southern Wisconsin

      Akircher, Carol3san,

      What a fantastic way to phrase it - "how powerful it is" - you nailed it.

      This Hub Akircher, has crafted is excellent. I am curious Akircher why you have been with swim fitness only for one year? How can we get the word out this is a remarkable exercise environment that offers something for everyone? Why are so many people missing it?

      Is it the swim suit stigma? I would like to see more coverage and a more athletic dress for swim fitness. I look at the racket sports and the running clothing and they all provide a sports theme rather than a "sun beauty" theme. I look for the day when swim fitness has an uniform of our own.

      We have made headway with the swim shoes but I feel people are hesitant to step in the swim fitness world of exercise because of the amount of skin showing.

      Your thoughts?

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 5 years ago from Washington

      Thanks EZ Swim~

    • EZ Swim Fitness profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 5 years ago from Southern Wisconsin

      Excellent article that showcases the many benefits of this exceptional environment for fitness. Voted up!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 5 years ago from Washington

      Thanks EZ Swim--it is a great way to exercise~

    • EZ Swim Fitness profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 5 years ago from Southern Wisconsin

      Very well written hub. Swim fitness has so many benefits and you did an outstanding job explaining this great exercise program.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 5 years ago from Washington

      Dolores - WHAT FUN~ I wish I had a pool I could go to past next week as I SO miss it when we're done for the summer--no indoor pool without driving 1 hour to get to one.

      How hilarious about Michael Phelps--I could see this happening except in my case, I'd probably dive under the water and then expire from trying to hide...and be more embarrassed when they fished my old lady saggy bod out of the water in front of him~~except I'd probably have drowned so I guess I wouldn't have to be so ashamed, eh? Great story!!!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi, Audrey! Plus, there is nothing like spending time in the water. I just love it. I visit a friend. We get into her above ground pool and just jog around it, chit-chatting. It's so much fun and better than sitting around eating cookies!

      Funny aside. An older friend of mine used to do her water aerobics at a pool frequented by Michael Phelps. As she was finishing up one day, in marches The Greatest Olympian Ever along with photographers and several others. She said that she felt so silly, the old saggy-bag (her words) and spent some time attempting to hide. It's hard to hide in a pool.

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 6 years ago from Fife, Scotland


      This is a superb hub. I used to get bored with jogging and the gym is an even bigger bore for me, not to mention the cost. But as you say, going to the pool, is one of the best and most cost effective methods of keeping fit. I think for me, one of the best benefits apart from keeping fit, was how relaxed I felt both during the exercise and afterwards and more importantly I never get bored being in the water. Hopefully many more will try swimming after reading your excellent hub. voted up + awesome!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Washington

      Thanks for reading, Hanna - I just can't say enough good things about water aerobics~

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Wow, that is a well worded and detailed hub. It covers everything hereis to know.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Washington

      PM - I love it - better than exercise "as usual" by far - and it is SOOOO relaxing~

      Truckstop Sally - You get floatation belts and water weights so you don't have to be confident. You just have to be able to enjoy exercising in water - which I think most any of us can. It is just such a super way to get the job done~!

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 6 years ago

      I am not a confident swimmer, but I know that swimming is a great exercise. I'll give it a try!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Washington

      If I could live in the water, I think I would~! Now just need to convince my husband that we don't need a yard - we need a pool~ ha ha - I WISH~!

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

      Great job, Audrey! I've always been interested in water aerobics but have never actually done it. Your hub is very inpiring. I think I'll give it a try very soon. :)

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Washington

      Prasetio - thanks for the read and glad you liked~ I love, love, love working out in the water - it is so refreshing...especially outside!

      Crewman - good deal~~ See ya then - I'm persistent if nothing else~

    • Crewman6 profile image

      Crewman6 6 years ago

      Got it fixed, Audrey. The change in my email notifications should have clued me, but your comment made me check my settings, and you were right. A number of my settings were turned off. Thanks for the hint! ... and you're never a pest. I'll keep my eyes on the calendar for 8/9.

      Thanks, and it's good to be back!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Water aerobics is new for me. I love this hub and all the videos above. I'll share this to my sister. I believe she'll love this also. Thanks for share with us. Well done, Audrey. Vote it up! Cheers...


    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Washington

      Crewman6 - No worries - I think your settings don't allow pests like me to contact you~ I was trying to reach out to everyone to ask for their vote - what a politician~!

      P.S. I asked yesterday because it didn't add up - the selection of 4 weeks of finalists and the voting starting on 8/2 - it turns out it doesn't start until 8/9~

      See ya then hopefully~!!! Glad to see you back.

    • Crewman6 profile image

      Crewman6 6 years ago

      Hi Audrey- Congratulations on your pelican hub. I've been out of touch for a while, and didn't realize the email notifications had changed. Now I have to read the email instead of just check the subject line...

      I will absolutely make an effort to vote for you on the 2nd. You're a great writer and deserve it. Sorry I was out of touch. Lot going on, but I'm trying to get back into the swing of things again. It's nice to be back!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Washington

      Thanks Rose - It's a great way to exercise and you do actually sweat - but you can't tell~ I'd love to be a ballerina in the water - only now that I'm old I'd probably be a belly-rina~

    • Rose West profile image

      Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan

      Very cool - such a great way to exercise year-round (if there's an indoor pool, that is). I like the fact that you don't get all sweaty :) I've never done water aerobics, but it sounds like great exercise. I used to practice my ballet moves in a pool - somehow it just made it easier.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Washington

      Oh dear, Nell - locked out~! I'm sure you'll get back in soon....thanks in the meantime for stopping in - I love it and wish I could swim outdoors all year round. I'd even let Gabby swim with me~

    • profile image

      Nell Rose 6 years ago

      Hi, I do go swimming a lot and find it really relaxing, but I could do with upping the exercise and going a bit faster! this is great! cheers nell

      p.s. I am writing it this way because I can't sign in! I have emailed them to see whats going on! panic! lol

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Washington

      Thanks for coming by, Crewman - missed you~ I was trying to let you know about my making it into the contest finals with my pelican hub but couldn't contact you - so if you happen to be looking around August 2nd or so (though not sure now if that is the correct date - snafu and all that with the dates) - please come give me a vote if you like.

      About the swimming - I'd forgotten too how much I loved it as a kid. I'd hitch a ride to the beach every spare minute of my life. Rediscovering it last year really has made an impact on my life - being able to actually stretch and do things I want to do that I can't do on land - wow~ Love it - only wish my stupid hick town would get with the program and get an indoor pool (did I say that?). In the interim, it's driving 30-60 minutes after September but oh well - worth it!

      Now if only I could put in a pool at home...that would be the most efficient and not sure WHY my husband doesn't see it that way? That and then Gabby could swim to her heart's content~

    • Crewman6 profile image

      Crewman6 6 years ago

      Audrey, I loved this one. You've reminded me how much I loved to swim in the Satilla River (in my youth). I knew some of the benefits, but you hit many points I didn't know about. Great research and writing. I no longer have a river in my backyard, but I'm going to look for a swimming pool!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Washington

      Lela - most definitely - I absolutely love going there on hot days - especially to an outdoor pool~ Working on my tan as well!!

      BJ - We shall have to see about the sanction, eh? Oy vey - and I'm not even Jewish....I love the workout but especially love getting out in the sun - I'm a sun baby from way back~

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      You are spot on! Water aerobics are a great way to work out and be cool at the same time. I love to watch other folks doing them.

      Just joshing. I swim and sometimes work out every chance I get. Thanks for the great tips. BTW, better tell Lela (above) she could be 'sanctioned.' :)

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      And in our Teat wave, water workouts are the only way to go

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Washington

      Carol3san - I go 4 times per week and wish I could go all 7 days. It is truly powerful and I plan to drive many miles to go during the fall and winter again. It's just that worth it! Thanks so much for the read!

      Pamela - Good point to make concerning RA - it's great for just 'regular' arthritis as I can attest to and so can Bob~ It's a fantastic way to really work out and it's so refreshing. I especially love it in the heat of summer! Thanks for the read!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      Water aerobics are recommended by most rheumatologists for patients with any form of arthritis also. I think your hub has a wealth of information that will entice people to try water aerobics.

    • carol3san profile image

      Carolyn Sands 6 years ago from Hollywood Florida

      I love water aerobics. I currently workout at the Y three times weekly. Until now, I had no idea of exactly just how powerful it is. Thanks for posting.