I absolutely love water especially activities like water aerobics and I always have! I undoubtably have a natural, almost instinctual connection with the water. In the way a sensory deprivation chamber can induce a meditative state; I come to know my mind and body better when I am in the water. Water is a significant symbol in many spiritual practices, it has the ability to cleanse, and purify, and even heal. It is a necessary component to life, keeping us healthy with adequate intake. The world's living creatures large and small need water!
I was a self conscious young child, with my rounded belly and my chubby cheeks. I was uncomfortably squeezing into my clothes and skin as long as I could remember, I also hated elementary PE and would "fake" an asthma attack on days I dreaded the activity. I did not lack athleticism, but I didn't feel comfortable in my own skin, and suffered from anxiety in new, or frequently changing situations. In Jr, High I joined the swim team and found my body immediately transformed into strong and slender, and I felt confident and accomplished. It was then that I understood the benefits of fitness in the water, and I couldn't get enough.
The first water aerobics class I taught was at the public pool and it was apparently an appealing class to the more aged crowed (due to the great benefits for individuals with arthritis and osteoporosis) with an oldies mixed tape (yes a cassette tape and "boom box") as the preferred music by the clients. As I became familiar with the routine, and studied various texts on the subject I began making changes in the class and found the class growing by word of mouth. And the demographic became more diverse, appealing to women of all ages and even pregnant women. Fast forward 16 years, I have taught water classes at various locations since those days and I have only expanded my knowledge and I am still putting my own twist on the tried and true exercises that benefit women in the water (I have also changed the music!)
How Water Aerobics Benefits Mama ( & Everyone Else):
The health and fitness benefits to exercising in water are extensive and all encompassing. I found the benefits as a young girl, it provided the cardio and toning my growing body needed, and the controlled breathing with the practice of competitive training taught me to manage my asthma symptoms with minimum medication usage.
During water aerobics water provides a resistance which is proportional to the effort exerted against it. Depending on the speed of the movement the resistance felt is 4-42 times the resistance from the air, and can be increased by more surface area, or higher speeds as well as the use of various aquatic tools. This makes a water workout a highly variable weight training and cardio option for any level of ability.
Buoyancy of water nearly eliminates the effects of gravity on the body, it supports 90% of the body's weight which reduces impact and increases flexibility. This makes water exercise an excellent choice for pregnant women, who are feeling the effects of the hormone Relaxin on their joints and are prone to injury, or who are uncomfortable carrying their extra weight and growing belly and need the extra support.
Also, when we are pregnant our heart rate increases more quickly during exercise usually during our first trimester especially caused by under fill. Which is a symptom of the body not building up the blood supply fast enough to redirect to the uterus during pregnancy. Exercise in the water actually decreases the heart rate by making the heart work more efficiently. The hydrostatic pressure of the water pushes equally on all body surfaces and helps the heart circulate blood and aiding blood flow back to the heart. Our heart rate is said to beat 10-15 beats slower per minute in the water during suspended water exercise than for the same effort applied on land, which is beneficial for those who are pregnant and not pregnant. This balance of pressure also prevents swelling a, typically symptom of pregnancy.
While exercising during pregnancy, it is important to keep the body cool, and not overheat. Water aerobics in a pool at a temperature between 85-80 degrees allows the body to regulate temperature while exercising. The benefits of exercise during pregnancy are the same for those who are not pregnant when it comes to metabolic regulation, decreasing fat and increasing muscles and strength, necessary to maintain our fat burning ability even when not exercising. Aquatic exercise will also aid in the digestive functions, easing irregularity and constipation, associated with pregnancy. Water aerobics is safe for not only mom but baby too. Research shows women that exercise during pregnancy have shorter, easier, less painful labor and recover from delivery much quicker. Children who's mother exercises during pregnancy perform better on the Apgar evaluation, and cope with the stress of delivery more effectively.
With so many benefits to water aerobics, I should probably address the possible reasons to be apprehensive (and provide a rebuttal of course!) Some ladies may be modest about showing so much flesh, and then being physically active, especially during pregnancy and in a postnatal body. I wear a high neck line speedo style swim suit that provides full coverage, I have even found swim pants on the market. There are also swim suits with skirts and special suits with ruching, and designs that disguise those places on the body, we workout to eliminate. A swim suit that makes you feel confident and comfortable is an important purchase, and when your health is the reason to take action, there is no better motivation. Perhaps, as an adult, swimming is not a strength, or even a skill; there are still activities you can take part in, in the shallow end of the pool, and I have personally worked with women, who found comfort in the use of an aquatic belt, which provided the buoyancy to keep them afloat, while they performed aqua jog laps in deep and shallow water. It is never too late to learn to swim, and I can absolutely refer you to someone if you are interested in gaining the knowledge. Honestly, I cant think of another possible reason why a woman would not want to exercise in the water. If you have any reasons, please share, and while I understand aquatic fitness may not be for everyone, I do believe most women will notice the benefits immediately and fall in love with the water, no matter the stage of motherhood.