It is officially summer in Central Texas, and that means more time spent in the water. While you’re cooling off by the pool or in the lake, consider doing aquatic exercises to increase your metabolism, build muscle mass and improve joint health. At St. David’s Rehabilitation Hospital, many of our patients benefit from the buoyant and resistive properties of water in our indoor therapy pool.
One of the tools used most frequently for exercise in our pool is the “noodle.” These inexpensive flotation devices can be found almost anywhere during the summer season.
Below are just a few of the many exercises you can do with the noodle at the pool. Try them out next time you find yourself in the water.
• Start in the deep end of the pool, where your feet will not hit the floor.
• Keep your body vertical with your legs underneath you, rather than out in front of your body.
• Straddle a large-diameter noodle between your legs, as if sitting on a horse.
• Sit up “high in the saddle” – don’t slouch!
• Engage your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button in and up.
Keeping your legs straight and ankles flexed, “scissor” your legs as if cross-country skiing. Bring one leg to the front while the other goes slightly behind you. Remember to stay vertical.
You can do any of the above exercises quickly, slowly or at your own pace. In general, slower movements will be larger and will help you stretch your muscles. Quick movements will be smaller and will provide more resistance for strengthening of the muscles. Make sure not to go so fast that you end up sacrificing good form.
When you feel comfortable enough, you can add arm movements to these exercises. This will increase your cardiovascular activity and offer a better overall workout. To do so, keep your arms straight and cup your hands for resistance as you make circles. You can also swing your arms at your sides or bring them horizontally out and in across the surface of the water.
Pedal your legs as if riding a bicycle. Begin slowly with large revolutions to stretch out your muscles. Gradually pedal faster once your muscles have warmed up.
“Half” Jumping Jacks
Keeping your legs straight and ankles flexed (toes pulled up toward you), bring your legs out to the side and then back together in the center. It’s like doing jumping jacks without using your arms.
With these tips, you’ll enjoy the benefits of low-impact exercise and stay cool in the process. Enjoy the summer and your new water exercise regimen!
Kay Taylor is a certified physical therapist and supervisor at St. David’s Rehabilitation in Sun City.