Dive into the New Year: The benefits of water classes
We all know that gravity pulls you down - but water has the opposite effect. This means a 63kg person weighs only 6kg in water. That support is superb for your weight-bearing joints, reducing the stress on your muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Contrast that with an exercise such as running on dry land and you’ll see a dramatic difference. When you run, a shock equivalent to five times your bodyweight moves up through your body. In fact, running compresses the spine so much that marathon runners are about 1 centimetre shorter when they finish a race.
With water reducing that impact by more than 85%, there’s much less chance of injury.
More science for you: viscosity, drag forces and frontal resistance come into play here. What that means in simple terms is: water is a natural weight-training machine.
It provides resistance in all directions and that resistance is proportional to the effort needed to move against it. So if you want to boost that in-built weight-training effect, incorporate webbed gloves, floats, buoyancy belts and water shoes into your watery workout.
If you want to lose weight, look no further. Because of those magical resistance properties, water-based activities burn more calories than land-based. Running on dry land burns around six calories a minute so, when working out in the water, you’re burning about 11 calories a minute. And remember, that effect lasts for a while after the exercise too.
Not only does the water give you a calorie-burning boost but if you’re shy about your figure, being in the water is much more private than leaping about in a room with a scantily-clad group.
The pressure of water on your body actually helps blood flow back to the heart. So, compared to similar efforts on land, blood pressure and heart rates are lower - particularly in deep water exercise.
When the winter weather is doing its worst outside, what could be more pleasant than sliding into a warm pool? Depending on your preferred club, some of the temperatures poolside are almost tropical.
Of course, if you fancy a change from just swimming lengths, there are a huge variety of water-based classes on offer.
Aqua Pilates, aqua jogging, aquatic yoga and water t’ai chi are all popular choices. One of the best classes is aqua intense - which is done in deep water, using equipment such as noodles and dumbbells. It’s one of the best all-round fitness classes on offer.