Water workouts pack same punch as land routines

There really is something in the water -- at least that’s what a new study, conducted by Montreal Heart Institute researchers, contends on behalf of aquatic exercise locations.

[See also: Midlife fitness outpaces chronic diseases further down the road]

Martin Juneau, MD, director of prevention at the Montreal Heart Institute and Mathieu Gayda, PhD, a clinical exercise physiologist at the Montreal Heart Institute, recently made a splash with their poolside analyses, having discovered that immersible ergocycles -- more or less exercise bikes placed in pools -- were as beneficial to patient fitness as their topside counterparts.

"If you can't train on land, you can train in the water and have the same benefits in terms of improving aerobic fitness," Juneau said in a news release.

"Exercise during water immersion may be even more efficient from a cardiorespiratory standpoint," Gayda added.

[See also: Research shows exercise and Vitamin D prevent falls in elderly]

While the most popular patient ideology assumes that submerged ergocycles would meet with too much water resistance and therefore, impede fitness progress, Juneau’s and Gayda’s study finds quite the opposite. Following aerobic cycle trials both dry and dunked (up to chest level), maximum oxygen consumption was decidedly equal, Juneau said. Additionally, heart rate levels among participants were found to be slightly lower when working out in the water.    

"You pump more blood for each beat, so don't need as many heartbeats, because the pressure of the water on your legs and lower body makes the blood return more effectively to the heart. That's interesting data that hasn't been studied thoroughly before," Juneau said.

For the number of people who cite difficulty — such as muscle aches and tears — when exercising on land, the study results offer a glimmering alternative to dry workout woes and hindrances.

"Inactive people who become physically active can reduce their risk of heart attack by 35 to 55 percent, plus lower their chance of developing several other conditions, cut stress levels and increase energy," concluded Beth Abramson, MD, of the Heart and Stroke Foundation. "Even if you have difficulty moving more, there are always solutions, as this study shows. This is encouraging given the aging population – it's never too late or too difficult to make a lifestyle change."

“Continuing to encourage physical activity with a goal of improved fitness should be part of each physician’s preventive care program,” Benjamin Willis, MD, MPH, of the Cooper Institute, said regarding the importance of midlife fitness in a separate study. “There is evidence that if doctors encourage their patients to become physically active, the patients are more likely to begin an exercise program.”

As water trials can lessen the strain on aging bodies and joints, perhaps more patients, especially those further along the age ranks, will be able to exercise more routinely and longer with the Juneau/Gayda method; physicians and physical therapist should alert qualified parties of the option.

In the case for fitness, wetter may not always be better, but it certainly can be comparable. [See also: Take a stand for life expectancy by sitting less]

Comments (1)

Shelley Ferguson: Swimming exercises like these are perfect for women who want to have lean, toned muscles, rather than bulking up in a gym like men do. I learned from a product I got at how2reducefatfast.com that the secret to the "Hollywood look" for women was resistance exercises, rather than larger weights or increased reps. Since swimming naturally creates resistance, this is perfect. I now incorporate swimming routines like these with my cardio and gym workouts, and in just 6 months have a happier, healthier life - and a body I have always wanted, at 38 years old!

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