Now that there’s a reason to plunge into the pool, know that swimming and water exercises are low impact yet very effective ways to improve mental and physical health. Whether it is children, senior citizens, people with special conditions or those who are just looking for good health, just go with the flow.
Water provides a gentle massage while you swim against it. The resistance of water literally makes it an injury free workout and is very good for rehabilitation from injuries. In most Western countries and in parts of India, there are exclusive water pools made only for physiotherapy rehabilitation. Water is very recreational, it refreshes and energises you fast. It provides buoyancy, is very calming, relaxing and soothing for emotional and mental issues.
Swimming is an exercise where your whole body works together in tandem. It may not be very high intensity but it is considered second best after yoga. It takes care of the lymphatic drain very easily, which increases your immunity. It addresses most of your health issues and increases energy, agility, immunity, stability, especially if you are regular with it. It’s a great cardio activity, thus improving heart health. It is good for diabetes, blood pressure, hypertension, renal issues, glycogen management and, of course, weight control. Swimming particularly takes care of your energy output without tiring you out, if you keep it sub-maximal and don’t go overboard.
In my long career, I used to do a lot of aquatic training for Miss India contestants, many Bollywood film stars and industrialists as a method to improve their immunity, agility, stamina, energy and to keep their weight under check.
BENEFITS OF WATER WORKOUTS
Water is very soothing in nature, relaxing and takes care of lactic acid build-up very easily. Swimming helps you become agile and softens your joints, which is why it is recommended for senior citizens. The simplest exercise that one can do in the pool — especially senior citizens, pregnant women and those who are recovering from injuries of joints like knees, hips, ankles and back — is walking slowly, striding medium and very slow, lifting the legs, landing, lifting and landing again slowly. Make sure you are walking at the shallow end.
Simply floating in water as a regular practice can help you build your mental calm and organise your body’s abilities for optimal endocrine and organ functions. The water pressure of the pool helps in better circulation of the blood in the whole body. In contrast to the more static nature of land-based training, the impacts of water turbulence can lead to positive changes in balance and postural stability. The resistance workout in the water provides muscular endurance and strength in the body, aiding inch-loss.
FOLLOW THESE WATER EXERCISES
Apart from walking, sideways walking, leg raises, squats and hip-rotation, here are few simple water exercises:
1) With your back against the wall at the shallow end, either holding the bar railing or the parapet with both your hands wide across, try to suspend your lower body and cycle with your back against the wall. Cycle-stretch out, breathe in and breathe out very slowly. This also helps your lower core and helps you rehabilitate your knee joints and leg injuries.
2) Face the parapet and hold the railings or the parapet. Gradually you can move your legs upwards sideways. Kicking sideways to the right and left, make sure you breathe out when you kick and breathe in when you retreat.
3) Immerse yourself up to the neck. One can do arm raises up to the shoulder level. Stretch your arms out as you breathe in, pull them in while breathing out. This is good to improve lung capacity and tone the arms.
4) Floating, holding the parapet or railings, one can do crawl kicks, kicking from the hips. One can also do breaststroke kicks.
5) Standing in a stationary position, one can bend one’s knees slowly and do a stationary crawl workout like a freestyle. You can do the same with your backstroke and the butterfly. This will help shape up the legs well.
Finally, aquatic exercises can be just a fun activity where you can hop, jump, splash, with your family or friends.
(Dr Mehta has trained Bollywood superstars Akshay Kumar, Preity Zinta, billionaires, politicians, Miss World/Miss Universe candidates and the Maharashtra Police. A best-selling author, he has been appointed FIT India Movement Champion by the Sports Authority of India).