The Latest Water Feature? Fitness.
The pandemic turned backyards into personal retreats. The latest trend? Making them your workout space, too.Outdoor living has been a buzzword and trend for years, with everything from kitchens to living rooms migrating outside and poolside. The pandemic only ramped up that craze, and now, homeowners are increasingly looking to their pools for fitness, too.
That's a smart move, experts say, since water is a great environment for exercise. It's perfect for everyone from elderly people who need low-impact activities; to those with physical disabilities who find water's buoyancy freeing; to high-performing athletes who use water to train; and everyone in between.
“People are trying to get as much exercise as they can at home,” says Michael R. Murray, PT, DPT, an aquatic physical therapist and president of the American Physical Therapy Association Academy of Aquatic Physical Therapy. “The pool is a perfect place to do that.”
The Fitness Benefits of WaterMurray says there are some incredible fitness benefits of water, and buoyancy is only one of them.
“The first thing is that most people think about is the buoyancy of the water,” Murray says.
While it's true that water's buoyancy helps people with arthritis or other conditions workout without hurting their joints as much, Murray doesn't consider buoyancy the most important benefit of aquatic fitness.
“I think the most important aspect is actually the resistance of the water. You can use that to actually build up the muscle, build up your cardio,” he says. “That's typically what I do with my sports medicine patients.”
In addition to buoyancy and added resistance, the water also provides cardiovascular benefits that can help build stamina.
“When you're in chest-deep water, it changes how your cardiovascular and your respiratory system kind of work. It makes the respiratory system have to work harder,” Murray says. “If you're working at a lower heart rate in the water, it compares to a higher heart rate on land.”
Murray also points to the benefits of hydrostatic pressure.
“When you're in deep water, the pressure on your legs is… almost like wearing compression sleeves on your feet. So, you don't have to worry about the swelling as much after a hard workout,” he says.
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