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Aquatic Exercise 101: Physical Activity in Pools, Hot Tubs & Swim Spas

Bullfrog Spas hot tub installation

All pool or home spa owners already know the magic that having somewhere to soak and float can bring into your life. Being able to take some time away from your busy schedule to sneak a bit of water relaxation into your workday or as a special weekend treat can really improve your quality of life. But had you ever thought of taking your exercise routine into the water?

Benefits of Aquatic Exercise

Exercising in water is a great, low-impact way to stay fit. The water offers resistance, which helps make the workout more effective than it would be on dry land. And the buoyancy of the water helps take pressure off your muscles and joints, making it gentle on the body. Exercising in water can also be a great way to change up your usual routine and get creative. So, if you’re looking for something new, this might be just what you need!

This low-impact environment makes exercising in water especially beneficial for therapeutic purposes. It can be a great relief for those struggling with chronic pain and other joint-related issues, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia. There’s no need to worry about slipping or falling like there would be walking around on grass either (great news if your joints aren’t what they used to be). If you suffer muscle aches from your work, the buoyancy of the water helps you relax muscles that are tight from sitting or standing too long.  And if you’re recovering from an injury, the weightlessness in water reduces pressure on joints so that you can rehabilitate safely. Although, of course, remember to seek professional advice when exercising with any medical condition.

It also doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or an experienced swimmer, because the water will always be at the same level of resistance, so it’s all about how hard you want to work out. Plus, there’s a wide range of exercises that you can do in the water to choose from, so you can for sure find something to suit your needs.

Depending on whether you have a pool, hot tub or swim spa, you will be able to do different types of water exercises. The hot tub is a great place to warm up or cool down with jets of circulating water that provides low-intensity training.  You can use the swim spa in much the same way, but it has more options for exercises than a hot tub does, more space, and the added resistance of the jets. A swimming pool is perfect if you want to do laps or also be able to float leisurely through refreshing water. But using any of them will allow you to reap the benefits of aquatic exercise.

Let’s take a look at each one.

Hot Tub Exercise

Hot tubs are the relaxation sanctuary of the house. The warm jets and bubbles are incredibly effective in helping you unwind and ease stress, relaxing your muscles. But why not make the most of your hot tub’s comfort and add a quick exercise routine?

A hot tub is an excellent place for stretching your muscles, thanks to the warm water. And adding in some light exercises will increase blood circulation and help you feel refreshed and invigorated afterward. 

These are just a few of the exercises you can try:

  • Strengthen Your Arms

Before you start, some slow shoulder rolls are a great way to release any tension in your neck and shoulders. Make sure you roll both forward and back! Then try some lateral raises by simply laying your hands by your side and then raising your arms straight out to the side through the water. Or, for a boxing-inspired move, punch each hand in turn straight in front of you.

  • Work Your Core

From the seated position in your hot tub, rest your hands beside you or cross them over your chest, bring your knees up towards your chest, then extend them in front of you, and repeat. You can also give your torso a nice stretch by reaching your right hand back towards the edge slowly and carefully, putting your left hand on your right knee, and twisting your body while sitting tall. Then repeat on the other side. This can be a great one after you’ve been sitting for a long time, but remember to always stretch only to where it feels comfortable.

  • Go for the Legs

Try flutter kicks to work your thighs and glutes. Simply lean back on the edge, raise your legs, kick one up while lowering the other, and then switch. Another alternative you can try is to bicycle the legs, gently working the knees and increasing mobility. These exercises can also be great for your core, as your abs are engaged in lifting your legs too.

Swim Spa Exercise

If you have a swim spa at home, you have all the benefits of a hot tub plus a few added extras. A swim spa has a little bit more length that gives you more room to move, plus you might have the added benefit of jets that create some additional resistance for you to play against. Swim spas can also have a temperature difference between the spa area and the swim area, so you can choose what suits your workout routine best.

The shallow area in the swim spa is perfectly suitable for doing all of the hot tub exercises. But the additional room can be great to add a few more in:

  • Water Yoga

This is a combination of traditional yoga poses performed in water. The buoyancy makes it easier to hold the poses and can challenge your strength level as well. If you struggle with your balance when doing yoga on land or feel that some poses are tough on your knees, you’ll be able to enjoy them much more in the water. You might want to have taken a few lessons in a yoga studio before you attempt the poses in the water, or why not book a yoga instructor to come and teach you some asanas in the comfort of your own backyard?

  • Pilates

Classes usually take place on a mat laid out on dry land, but many prefer exercising in their swim spa because they feel less pressure exerted on joints. Pilates is a series of movements that work on building stronger muscles while improving flexibility and balance. It includes specific stretches, controlled breathing patterns, muscle control exercises (like crunches), and much more! Like yoga, if you’ve already tried some classes on land, you can replicate the movements in the water.

  • Exercises in Shallow Water

You can do exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, or just about any other movement that you can do on dry land in your swim spa. It will feel more effortless because of the weightlessness of moving through the water so you can get more repetitions in.

Swimming Pool Exercise

If you have a swimming pool, you will have more space to move, but the water can be cooler, especially in the wintertime, so bear this in mind when planning your routine.  If you’re doing more active exercises, you’ll see that you warm yourself up quickly!

As well as the exercises for the swim spa, here are a few more that you can best do in a pool.

  • Water Aerobics

This type of class uses low-impact movements that are easy on joints, making it ideal for seniors or those recovering from an injury. Still, it can also provide a challenging workout with its fast-paced intervals!

  • Water Running

Similar in many ways to outdoor running, except there’s no pounding on your feet or pressure against your knees and hips. Water provides enough resistance so that muscles still get worked without the pain associated with regular land-based workouts. Additionally, you are using upper body muscles such as arms, shoulders, and upper back in water running. This can be an excellent alternative for runners looking to cross-train but without the impact of being on land. Or if you want a lower impact option, just take your speed down a notch, and do some water walking!

  • Swimming Laps

This exercise is a classic because of the range and intensity options available, but also because swimming provides all the benefits that most land-based exercises offer: increased cardio output, improved cardiovascular fitness, fat loss, toned muscles, and much more. Choose the stroke that best suits your workout needs - or maybe just the one that you enjoy the most! 

If you find that you want to push yourself further, you can add equipment to your water workout.  Using a band or weights while swimming or doing other water exercises adds additional resistance to the water, which means more muscle-building.

Setting SMART Goals

Having a goal in mind is a great way to stay motivated and help you be more consistent. Make sure that you’re clear on what you want to achieve from the exercise, whether it’s to lose weight and have more toned muscles or improve your aerobic fitness level while also working on your muscular strength. And then follow the SMART methodology to make your goal more achievable.

  • Specific: the more specific your goal, the easier it will be to achieve and to visualize. You can specify what kind of activity or action you want to complete, such as “20 minutes of cardio per day,” or what results you want to achieve.
  • Measurable: The more you can quantify your goal, the easier it will be to keep track of progress.
  • Achievable: You do want to be pushing yourself but also set a realistic target that you can achieve. Otherwise, you’ll likely end up demotivated.
  • Realistic: The decision about which form of exercise you chose and what goal you set for yourself has everything to do with your current lifestyle. If you’re struggling to find 10 minutes to exercise right now, don’t set a goal of swimming for 2 hours every day, as it’s difficult to stick to it.
  • Time: Are you setting yourself a 30-day challenge? Or more of a long-term goal? Whatever you choose, make sure you have an end date in mind so that you have something to aim for.

What Are You Waiting for?

Once you decide on what your goal is going to be, go for it! As with any exercise routine, remember to be mindful of your current physical condition and get the appropriate medical clearance if needed before starting a new workout program. And to help you reach your goals of living a healthier, happier life, make sure that you support your exercise routine by eating a balanced diet and alternating rest days when needed.

Remember to stay hydrated, especially when you spend time in a hot tub or out in the sun, and stretch after your exercise session to help your muscles recover.  When exercising in water, make sure you’re wearing water-friendly attire and that you don’t run the risk of slipping while moving.

Make sure you’re mindful of how long you stay in the water, and if you have children joining in with you, keep a close eye on them because they are more susceptible to the temperature changes.

Contact Outback Pools & Spas Today

Our experts are here to help you choose what hot tub, swim spa, or pool best suits your needs.  If you found this article helpful, you can find more health and lifestyle tips about our hot tubs on our blog. Whether you’re a current owner looking to upgrade or in need of maintenance help, or a future owner ready to take the next step, our friendly experts are here to help you.  We are more than happy to answer any questions that you may have to make sure that you walk away with the option that best fits your lifestyle, your home, and your budget today.

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