By Jason Cramp
Heading to the gym on a beautiful sunny day can feel more like a chore than a fun, healthy activity. So why not stay home and get fit right in your own backyard? Whether you’re fortunate enough to be able to swim a few laps in a pool or just find new ways to enjoy your deck or patio, there are plenty of ways to stay in shape without leaving your backyard.
Why water works
There are several advantages to a water-based workout, thanks to the inherent properties of water itself.
Any movements you make underwater are met with added resistance, since water is much denser than air. This forces your body to work even harder than it normally would, making each movement all the more effective. This resistance also lessens the impact of certain movements on your joints. Sudden stops and starts are less painful than they would be out of the water.
The benefits of buoyancy
Water’s buoyancy lessens the effects of gravity on your body. In essence, your weight is reduced when you are in water. Depending on how deeply you are immersed, you can significantly reduce the amount of weight your body bears. When waist-deep in water, your body only has to handle approximately 50 per cent of your body’s mass weight; in neck-deep water, only 10 per cent.
Buoyancy also decreases the amount of shock absorbed by your bones, muscles, joints, and ligaments. When swimming in deep water, your body suffers virtually no impact at all.
This makes water-based fitness programs ideal for individuals who have difficulty moving on dry land. Swimmers who are overweight, elderly or suffer from ailments such as arthritis, fragile bones, injuries or other disabilities, can all benefit movement in the water. Special lifts and other accessibility equipment is even available to help these bathers get into the pool.
Water can also help cool you down during a pool-based workout. Sweat generated by your body is wicked away as you move through the water, which also prevents overheating by allowing your body to effectively eliminate excess heat.
For this reason, you must carefully monitor yourself during a water-based workout, especially on hot, humid days, when physical exhaustion can set in rapidly. You may feel cool and comfortable, but you are still exerting yourself a great deal. If at any point you begin to feel dizzy, lightheaded, short of breath or nauseated, stop and take a break.
Also, just because you’re surrounded by water doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay well hydrated. The more you exercise, the more you sweat. While water will wick away a certain amount of perspiration and keep your body cool, you still have to replenish your fluids to stay comfortable and keep your body working properly. Again, this is even more important in extreme conditions. Of course, as with any other workout, take the time to warm up before you begin.