Health Benefits of Aquatic Exercise and Water Aerobics

Aquatic exercise is one of the most enjoyable and effective ways to get active during the hot summer months. Sometimes referred to as water aerobics, aquatic exercise is a refreshing, low-impact, total body workout that offers incredible health benefits.

Health Benefits of Aquatic Exercise

In the past, aquatic exercise was thought to be a less effective form of exercise because it doesn’t require a lot of physical strain and you don’t sweat. This isn’t true. The unique properties of water make aquatic exercise a very effective and unique workout.

Joint Mobility and Flexibility

The natural resistance of water replaces the toll of gravity bearing down on your body during exercise. In other words, the overall body weight applied to your joints reduces by about 90%. This leads to less muscle soreness, swelling and strain. If you suffer from joint problems and most weight-bearing exercises are too difficult for you, aquatics is a great way to move your body without the side effect of pain.

As your joints begin to loosen up and adapt to exercise, you should also notice increased flexibility and range of motion.

Helps Build Balance

Water resistance also supports an individual in balance, allowing for movements in water that may be too challenging on land. The water moves and “pushes” on the body, increasing balance challenges with minimal risk of injury.

Reduces Inflammation

Water has a subtle hydrostatic pressure that can relieve pain from inflammation, reduce swelling and enhance circulation throughout the body.

Good for the Muscles

Strength-training is also possible with aquatics, especially if you use pool toys or equipment as additional tools during your workout. Water provides resistance in all directions, facilitating muscular strength and endurance.

Weight-loss and Calories

The way calories are burned in aquatic workouts is different from exercise on land. When walking, running, lifting, etc., the amount of calories you burn is linked to the weight you carry, how fast you move, and resistance from elevation. In the water, the added resistance replaces the loss of gravity while still providing total body stimulation. So although it may be easier to move around, you are still meeting exercise requirements and burning calories.

Mental Health

Last but not least, aquatic exercise is fun! The enjoyment we get from splashing around in the refreshing water releases endorphins and alleviates stress, anxiety and depression. The boost in mood also increases the brain’s ability to think efficiently.


Water-based workouts, by any name, can be a fun and engaging way to exercise. They are also a lot easier to do in most cases than land-based exercises and have a ton of health benefits.

If you have a pool in your backyard, put it to use this summer! If not, contact your local YMCA, your local university’s exercise science department, or a major health club and ask for their aquatics schedule. You can also start “pooling” in the benefits on your own if you have access to a community pool close by.

Stay tuned for more water-based workout information on the Your Weight Matters Blog this summer! Click here to read the full article from the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), Producer of the Your Weight Matters Campaign.

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