Able Body, Stable Mind, Noble Soul
There are different types of exercises – those that use varying muscle movements at varying speeds to work on a muscle group and those where your muscles don’t move but are still working as it is pushing against a solid object or holding muscles in a constant pressure. The former is called Isotonic exercises and the latter Isometric exercises. While both these have several health benefits, they also come with their share of effort and pain. A third kind of exercise is called Isokinetic exercise. These are when muscles move at a constant speed. In an isokinetic exercise, no matter how hard you work, whichever force you’re pushing against, pushes back against you just as hard – for example exercising in water. When you move in water, the water will push you back and so your movement is controlled and at a constant speed. This ensures that your joints don’t have too much strain slowing down the movement of your arms and legs. Water exercises are hence more easy on those who have arthritis, joint pains, injury sprains and other strained muscles.
Most water exercises can be done without learning to swim. However, elementary swimming lessons will make you more at ease in a swimming pool. Different kinds of water exercises from therapeutic to elevating fitness levels can be done with proper guidance. Therapeutic exercises are normally in the presence of a trained professional who can guide you. As the normal pain symptoms associated with movement on dry land is not there under water or at least at the bare minimum, there is a chance of over doing things only to find out when on land that it does indeed hurt later! So especially when in comes to therapy, it is crucial to have the wisdom of a professional always around.
To increase fitness levels, water workouts are a great way to be motivated. In hot climes, the cool pool can be an incentive to workout. In cooler climes if there is access to a warm pool, it does the same. Simply jumping around in the pool, hopping, lifting, stretching and dancing can be a lot of fun. Playing with a floating ball in a group can add to the relaxed atmosphere too.
To the more serious contender, any number of water workouts can be performed. To begin with, if you intend to workout in water consistently, you need to know the basic physics of water. Water exercise is not just land exercises done in water. There are a number of principles that will impact your workout in water such as buoyancy, drag, and water temperature. Understanding them and using those principles to carefully plan your workout will increase the benefits of the time you spend in the pool.
Buoyancy reduces the compression and weight bearing on the joints. So the depth of water influences the compression placed. You will weigh only 10% of your body weight when you stand neck deep in water. You will weigh about 50% when you stand waist deep in water. So the deeper you go, buoyancy plays a greater role in lifting you off the floor.
You might have noticed that you can walk easily sideways rather than straight ahead in water. Just as how gravity is the primary force on land while exercising, drag is the primary force that governs your exercise move in water. The faster you move in water the more drag you will create.
Different types of workouts need different temperatures. We believe that the human skin temperature is about 93° F. As water transfers heat and cold more quickly than air, 75° F water will seem far more cold than an air temperature of the same. Most comfortable temperature for water aerobics and heavy workouts is 80 to 84° F. For a therapy session for arthritis or such, slightly warmer water up to even 88° F will be comfortable.
One important tip to follow while performing exercises in water is to ensure the entire movement in under water. Having your arms suddenly out of the water will change your heart rate and the entire dynamics of your exercise routine. Also when your arms are out of the water, you will not be applying any resistance to the upper body.
Avoid water exercises if you have skin disorders, high or low blood pressure and intense heart issues.
By Gita Krishna Raj printed in Food & Health magazine in August 2013.
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