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People exercising in the water

What is Aquatic Fitness?

Aquatic Fitness is doing exercises, or being active in the water in order to help strengthen muscles and increase overall physical, and internal health. There are many variations of what Aquatic Fitness can look like. There are exercises done with water weights that use resistance to challenge and strengthen the muscles. There are also exercise like walking, jumping, or swimming, that are more cardio based, and can help build endurance and overall cardiovascular fitness. There are even water sports like water volleyball, water polo, surfing, sailing, etc. that incorporates the water, which also includes one being active. Depending on a person’s fitness goals, the water can be utilized in many ways to accomplish them.

Why the water?

The variety of exercises that are typically performed on land can be modified and done in the pool or any body of water, with the added benefits of the water. Because of the way water moves and how it affects our buoyancy and gravity, it can help improve our flexibility, strength, and movement. For example, one can improve their balance without the fear of falling because the water becomes a support. Water also allows for people to do high intensity work outs at a very low impact, because the water prevents any high impact of jumping; which can really be hard on the joints and ligaments. People with arthritis, fibromyalgia or other chronic pain issues can have pain relief just from doing any type of movement in the water. The reason this happens, is because the water increases blood circulation, and exerts pressure which reduces swelling and increases range of motion. This low impact benefit, one can also increase their heart rate and lung capacity without the stress of heavy lifting of weights; but they can use the water resistance as a tool to build stamina and strength.

Water can also be used as a relaxation and peaceful form of exercise with its natural calming effect of the sound and blue color. Many physical therapists and trainers use water to help people improve mobility, flexibility, and coordination by using different temperatures and depths of water. It has been proven that water can increase a person’s rehabilitation from various surgeries or injuries. People use water in a variety of ways as a therapeutic healing mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Water releases specific hormones in the body that help people relax and improve mood. 

What’s next?

No matter what you do in the water, it ends up being a full body work out because one must use every muscle to move, and balance. Whether you prefer to be at a waterpark, home pool, or lake, they all share one thing…water. The more one can be in the water, the more they will gain from all the benefits of it. But also remembering that water can be dangerous, so you must educate yourself on the dangers and how to prevent them. Being able to swim with water is a gift and safety skill. So get out there this summer and learn to integrate water with things you love to do so you can experience and enjoy all the things water has to offer.


Sidney Gotto, Aquatics Director


Find a YMCA Aquatics Fitness Class!

Category: Health & Wellness
Sidney G in the water

Sidney Gotto is the Aquatics Director at the YMCA Healthy Living Center in Council Bluffs. She has 6 years of experience working in Aquatics. Her certifications include: Lifeguard, Lifeguard Instructor, Fitness Instructor (Land & Aqua), Pro CPR/First Aid/AED, Water Safety Instructor, and Certified Pool Operator. Aside from her professional career in Aquatics, she continues to compete in swimming, paddleboard, wakeboard, and snorkel. Anywhere there is water is where you will find Sidney!