Water Aerobics Routines
Low Impact Resistance Workouts



Enjoyable water aerobics routines that you can do, whether you can swim or not.

I love water exercises because they provide such a great workout with minimal impact on my joints.

Great for if you're recovering from injury, elderly or a break from high impact land exercise.

But also just as an activity, water aerobics is good for everyone.

You can literally do any movement in water. You don't have the problem of gravity, that you do on land.

You're only limited by your own imagination. But fear not, as you're in the right place to get some ideas!

Water provides assistance (e.g. holding the side and kicking horizontally). Water also provides resistance. This is the magic of water aerobics routines.



Basic Water Exercises

Here are the basic exercises in your water aerobics routines:

  • Walking.. In waist high water, walk on the spot. Make sure your whole foot, from heel to toe, touches the floor. Lift your knees up rather than forward. Keep your hands on your waist or to the sides, for balance.

  • Jogging/Sprinting.. In chest high water, jog on the spot. Land on the balls of your feet and push off from your toes. Lift your knees up high. Use your arms as you would in normal jogging, with straight fingers to cut through the water. Move your arms and legs faster in the sprint, keeping good technique with your abs tight and head high.

  • Jumping Jacks.. In chest high water, start by standing with feet together and arms by your side. As you jump spread both feet to each side and lift your arms up parallel to your shoulders. Land on the balls of your feet, then jump again and bring feet back together and arms back to your body. That is 1 jumping jack. You can do these in waist high water, but start with your hands together above your head and bring them down parallel to your shoulders, and then back up again to finish the cycle.

  • Cross Country Skiing.. In chest high water, start with your right leg forward and left leg back, toes pointing ahead. Left arm straight out in front and right arm by your side, bent at the elbow. As you move your right leg back and left leg forward, punch your right arm ahead and bring your left arm back. Continue this movement making sure opposite arms and legs are moving together (left arm right leg, right arm left leg).



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    Avoid Injury SideNote

    Don't over-exert when you start your water aerobics routines. Get used to moving in water and then push yourself further. Always keep good technique - straight back, tight abs and bottom, head high looking ahead. This will keep you safe and work your body most efficiently.

    If you can't swim at all, exercise with a friend to improve your confidence in the pool. I suggest getting some basic swimming lessons to keep safe in the pool.
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    Water Aerobics Routines - Flexibility

    Here are some water exercises to use in your water aerobics routines. They are focused on improving your flexibility:

  • Leg Swings.. Start in waist high water, holding on to the side of the pool with your left hand. Swing your right leg forward, keeping your knee straight, try and touch the surface of the water with your toes. Swing your leg back as far as you can, then repeat for 30 seconds. Turn around and repeat with your left leg for 30 seconds.

    To progress, move away from the edge and into chest high water. This time hold your left arm out in front with palm down. Swing your right leg forward and attempt to touch the palm with your toes, then swing back as far as you can. Repeat with your other leg. Focus on balance.

  • Side Bends.. In chest high water, hold your hands above your head. Keeping your feet flat on the floor and your back straight, bend your body over to the right. Then slowly return to the middle, repeat for 30 seconds. Then repeat the process bending to your left for 30 seconds.

    Tip - when bending to the right, hold your left fingers with your right hand, to get an extra stretch at the end of your bend. Hold your right fingers with your left hand when bending to the left.

  • Front and Back Kicks.. Hold on to the side of the pool with both hands, on your front. Relax your leg muscles, then point your toes and start kicking for 30 seconds, increasing your leg speed the whole time. Repeat on your back for 30 seconds. Each kick should be a small controlled movement.

  • Leg Rotations.. In chest high water, stand against the pool side and hold the edge with both hands. Lift your right leg straight up as high as you can go, then bring it round to the side so it touches the wall, and back down to the floor. Repeat with your left leg, and do 30 seconds per leg.

    Tip - keep your knees straight. Don't worry if you can't raise your leg high at first, it will come in time as your flexibility increases.

  • Arm Circles.. In chest high water, bring both your arms up to the side level with your shoulders, palms down. Circling forwards, make small circles getting larger then back to small, for 30 seconds. Repeat circling backwards for 30 seconds. Then repeat forwards and backwards with your palms up, 30 seconds each.



    Water Aerobics Routines - Strength

    Any exercise in water will improve your general strength. The resistance of water acts like a natural weight against your body. You can focus your water aerobics routines to improve strength in certain areas of your body. These water exercises focus on improving your specific strength:

  • Biceps.. In chest high water, stand with your hands by your sides, fingers together, palms facing forward. Bending at your elbows, push your hands up to your chest, then bring them back down to your sides. Repeat for 30 seconds.

  • Triceps.. In waist high water, keep your elbows by your side, with hands out in front, fingers together, palms facing down touching the surface of the water. Bending at your elbows, push your hands down to your sides, then bring them back up to the surface. Repeat for 30 seconds.

  • Shoulders and Back.. In chest high water, hold the side of the pool with both hands, keeping your knees bent (with 1 foot resting on the other), lower yourself so that your arms are straight. Pull your body up until you can see over the edge of the pool, then slowly lower yourself back down. Repeat as many times as you can (which may not be many at first!).

  • Abs.. In chest high water, your back against the side of the pool, holding yourself up with your elbows over the edge. Keeping your back and legs straight, bring your legs up parallel to the water surface. Count to 5 then slowly lower them back down. Repeat as many times as you can.

  • Thighs and Bottom.. In waist high water, stand with your feet shoulder width apart, toes pointing forward. Keeping your back straight, bend your knees in the squat position (as if you were going to sit in a chair) and count to 5. Make sure your knees bend in line with your toes. Slowly lift back up to standing and repeat 10 times.

    Tip - keep your hands out in front of you for balance. Don't rush through the squat, take it slow and feel your quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteal muscles working hard.

    swimming workouts

    Creating Your Water Aerobics Routines

    Now you have some ideas of water exercises, how do you combine them into water aerobics routines?

  • The first thing you need to remember is your warm up and cool down. Your body temperature will slightly decrease when you get into the water. It's even more important to gently raise your pulse and warm your muscles up, before doing anything strenuous.

    If you can swim, do some gentle laps. Otherwise do some relaxed walking or jogging on the spot, moving your arms with your legs. Once you're warm, you can stretch your major muscles.

    For your cool down, it's pulse lowering exercises followed by specific stretching of the muscles you've been using. The principles are the same as on land. Many of the same stretches can be done in water.

  • The next step is creating the actual workout sequence. This is where your imagination comes in. You can combine the exercises above, plus anymore you can think of, any way you wish. Whatever suits you best.

    Personally I like to start with some easy, basic full body exercises, like jogging and jumping jacks. Moving on to specific areas, such as arms, legs, abs or back. Then finish off with some harder full body exercises, like cross country skiing or sprinting.

  • I've written some time guidelines above with each exercise. As a complete beginner, it's wise to start with, say 30 seconds per exercise, as your marker. If it's easy increase it, or lower if it's too hard. Your fitness level is unique to you, so always take it easy with new activities. Go from 30 minutes for the whole workout, to 45, to an hour.

  • Once you get into a routine, you'll enjoy creating new routines and pushing yourself as you see progress. Remember to track your progress and set yourself goals. Write down your water aerobics routines and update them as you improve.

  • It's amazing how many people forget to breathe. This is mostly aerobic exercise, which means using oxygen. Focus on your breathing, slow each exercise down and breathe steadily. Only in exercises such as sprinting, you may not be able to breathe for that short burst.

  • Although you may not feel like you're sweating, you are! You'll still lose fluid in your water aerobics routines, so you need to keep hydrated. Sip plenty of water after your workout.



    Final Word

    Water aerobics routines are challenging. More than you'd think. Any water exercise is my personal favourite because of everything it has to offer. Whether it's swimming, water aerobics or water games, such as water volleyball. They're all great fun and great for your body.

    Even if you play sport, e.g. golf, you can practice specific actions in water. Focus on the best technique of each action, i.e. golf swing, and practice it in the pool. This will build strength for specific muscles, so when you're back on the golf course, you'll see the difference, e.g. longer drives.

    Water aerobics classes are good to get an idea of the exercises. If you enjoy working out in a social atmosphere with an instructor, then classes are definitely worth the money.

    They also have the advantage of priority pool space and music. You won't normally have that luxury in a public pool. But you won't need much space, if you can find a quiet corner in the pool, you'll be fine.

    Music regulates the workout so you can work to a rhythm, but it's not necessary.

    You'll adapt your own rhythm once you're used to the exercises anyway.

    If you have your own pool, great! You can exercise to music, and even the smallest backyard pool is big enough for water aerobics routines.

    I hope you have the same fun creating your water aerobics routines, and enjoy the challenge of doing them.

    It really is the best type of cross training I've come across.

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