Water exercise: Good for what ails you… even in a pandemic!
By Katie Duncan, Mind and Body, Messenger Inquirer
Just 5 months ago, we were eagerly anticipating the start of summer and all the activity it promised, but now we are all mourning the loss of ever important social gatherings and our “normal” way of life. I’m sure most of you may feel pretty lost as I do when it comes to the pandemic and what it means for us as a society. It’s no secret that we are living in history and this will be something we will remember forever. It is more important than ever to appreciate your family and develop good exercise habits. I know many of you probably feel pretty lost on where to begin, so let me help you! Speaking as someone who was almost literally raised in water, I am always an advocate of swimming for exercise. The pool is a fantastic place to start or add variety to your exercise program.
Water exercise (and exercise in general!) is extremely therapeutic. The CDC website says, “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 mothers’ mental health. Parents of children with developmental disabilities find that recreational activities, such as swimming, improve family connections.”
Exercising in water increases your range of motion, forces your body to use different muscles (maybe even some you didn’t know you had!) with low to no impact, increased balance and better flexibility, and the list goes on. Many benefits can be seen just from something as easy as walking or jogging in water. I’ve been around water my whole life and I’ve seen firsthand the benefits of water exercise for people of all ages. Water exercise is a great way to bond with your kids, your spouse, or even just doing something on your own to achieve a personal goal or lose that last bit of weight you’ve been meaning to get rid of forever. Whether it’s getting in the pool and swimming laps, water walking or jogging, playing water games with your kids, or really anything in the water, you are going to see the benefits in your health and well-being. You may also find you are able to move better in the water than you can on land.
Being in the water is a great family activity. When I was growing up, we spent a majority of our time at swim practice or just playing at the pool. Some of my fondest memories were with my family at Atlantis or in my grandparents’ pool, jumping in the pool, playing Marco Polo, King of the Hill, belly flops, etc. You name it, we did it! We always came home exhausted, but totally satisfied with the day.
If you have a pool in your backyard, make sure you have multiple measures of protection in place. These include door alarms, gates that lock, and making sure your children understand the importance of having an adult in the area to ensure safety of everybody involved. If you or your child cannot swim, please make sure you use Coast Guard approved life jackets that provide plenty of support in the water. It is always better to overdo it on safety!
We want everyone to practice safe exercise and good physical distancing, but we also want everyone to have fun. Whatever that looks like, stay healthy and enjoy some new activities.