Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.
Water is Buoyant
When a person’s body is partly submerged in water, the force of gravity is countered by the buoyancy effect of water (ie. the water pushes you up to the surface - or causes your body to float, countering gravity which pulls you down). The net result is a less jarring effect (than on land) as the body moves up and down. The work load and motion are the same, but the water resistance gives it a feeling of being gentle. This allows a high impact work out with the qualities of a low impact work out. Water is also an excellent medium for exercise for older people. The water in this case acts as a support, allowing movement and flexibility that may not be allowed on dry land.
Water is Cooling
Depending on the temperature of the water; it can remove any heat build up in the body faster than any heat build up that occurs when exercising on land. It is important, however, that the water you are exercising in is not too cool, as you can rapidly lose too much body heat when you are submerged in very cool water.
Compression Forces are Decreased
The weight of the body on land tends to compress joints (eg. Weight above the base of the spine causes the joints at the bottom of the spine to squash together). When the body is immersed in water, these forces of compression are significantly decreased.
Hydrostatic Pressure on the Body is Even
There is equal pressure on the body in all directions around parts of the body at any given depth of water. This means that any damage by sharp or irregular movement is decreased. The water acts as a dampener, buffering & slowing such movements. When the body is immersed in water, these forces of compression are significantly decreased, hence there is less wear and tear on the joints.
Hydrostatic Pressure Can Affect Blood Movement
Any part of the body that is submersed will have a greater pressure on the skin than normal air pressure on the skin is. This situation means that the heart must push blood harder to get it into blood vessels that are close to the skin surface. As the primary goal of exercise is to increase the heart rate, this assists in meeting the criteria more easily. However, it is something that also needs to be watched, especially if any participants have a history of high blood pressure problems.
Increased Resistance to Body Movements
The resistance to movement in water can be around 830 times greater than the resistance to the same movement in air. This is really what water fitness programmes are all about. The combination of a greater work load in a softer, more supportive environment makes water exercise ideal for all age groups and fitness levels. Water sport can be very demanding, as can be seen by the health and fitness of elite athletes such as swimmers and triathletes. But it can also be gentle, making it a good type of exercise for nearly anyone, as well as one that can be increased as the level of fitness increases
The lungs can benefit greatly from aqua exercise. Any exercise on land or in the water which increases the heart rate, will in turn increase the depth of breathing. By breathing more deeply, lung capacity is gradually increased. Unlike exercise on land though, the water surrounding the body can help prevent over heating as well as excessive perspiration (and rapid water loss) during heavy exercise.
There are three levels of lung capacity, residual volume, tidal volume and vital capacity. Residual volume is the air still left in the lungs after all air has been breathed out. Even when we have expelled as much air as is physically possible, about 25% of the lungs still hold some air. Tidal volume is the amount of air that is breathed in and out at a regular breathing pattern. Vital capacity is the total capacity of lung available for holding air. It is a sum of the residual volume, the tidal volume and the inspiratory reserve volume, or that air that we can inhale, but is not needed for regular breathing (like taking a deep breath before diving in a pool.)
Swimming is particularly good for increasing lung capacity, because not only is the body stimulated to breathe more by an increased heart rate, but the swimmer tends to take deeper breaths - particularly with underwater or lap swimming. Vital capacity is often much greater in swimmers than in non-swimmers.
Aqua exercise is particularly useful as a therapeutic tool for people recovering from injury, or with some other problem that hampers their ability to exercise on land. Various aspects (eg. surgery, severe pain, different disabilities) can impair a person’s ability to participate in more traditional exercise; whereas aqua exercise if properly prescribed may be a very appropriate alternative. A doctor or physiotherapist should be consulted prior to starting any type of exercises, especially if special conditions do apply. They also may be able to suggest particular exercises to try and those to avoid. Overworking is also a concern, as the water can lessen the impact, but can also mask soreness or pain if muscles are worked too long or hard.
Because the effect of gravity is reduced, the body can move more freely when submerged. This may allow an injured part of the body to be stretched more, with less pain. It is also reduced flexibility, as well as pain from wear and tear, arthritis, etc., that often makes exercise difficult for older adults. Stretching can be very important to enhancing recovery or allowing increased flexibility in movement, both on water and on land. Exercise in the water can therefore, in due course, lead to increased flexibility.
Because water offers greater resistance than air, muscles will be strengthened as they are moved through water. Many of the movements made, especially in aerobic type exercise, will not only increase the heart rate and the aerobic benefits, but this added resistance will increase muscle tone. The same can be said in comparison of swimming versus running. Swimming will give a much better upper body work out, while still using the legs, while in running or jogging the legs benefit (and the arms, to some extent, from swinging in rhythm), but the rest of the body muscles are used very little.
Re-education of Muscles
After surgery or a serious accident, the way in which certain muscles are moved might be altered; and the relevant part of the body may need to be re-taught how to move properly. After a period of reduced (or nil) use, muscles can be very weak, difficult to use, and easily damaged).
This re-education can be much easier in water where the muscles are supported through buoyancy, therefore more easily moved.
The buoyancy of water causes the body to move more slowly, allowing a person more time to adjust to loss of balance. This reduces the chance of injury from falling and increases the coordination of movements. As water will slow down the movement, it is easier to keep good posture and form, which is often a problem in achieving the best results, especially in aerobics.
There are a number of conditions which can cause muscle spasms, some slight, some severe. These include Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis or Strokes. People with such conditions often find movement much easier in water than on land. In addition to the benefit of buoyancy, if the water is relatively warm, the muscles are able to be kept warmer during exercise, and due to improvement in blood circulation there is a resultant decrease in muscle spasms.
Learn the facts about water based exercise and the potential for increased vitality and improvements in general health.
The best thing about aquafitness in particular is the low level of impact on the body. Build fitness through rehabilitation, and improve health through powerful yet gentle exercise!