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Aqua aerobics is a fun way to shed a couple of pounds without huffing and puffing and sweating it out. All you need is a swimming pool and a couple of exercise devices to splash away, writes Krupa Shah

Some of the most common excuses we cook up to not exercise are: don’t want to sweat, it’s hot, too much trouble, have more interesting things do, not that fat after all. Well, you don’t need to hem and haw anymore. Aqua aerobics is the perfect way to get the laziest couch potato moving. It might not be a one-stop workout to shape up your waistline, but it certainly shows amazing results in toning the flab. Aqua aerobics is also the ideal way to relax in summer and let your mind and body soak in a dose of wellbeing.

Advantage, Water
While aerobics and other ‘land’ workouts can be high-impact exercises with lots of heaving and crunching on the day and sores on the morrow, splashing around in water is a great route to enjoy your journey from fat to fit. A huge advantage is that one does not need to know swimming in order to do water aerobics. Standing in a pool with chest-level water and performing actions and routines is simple and effective. “In aerobic routines on land, the resistance you face is from gravity. But the water’s buoyancy gives you many benefits. Water has thirteen times the resistance of air and a twenty minute workout in water will give you the same benefits as a 45 to one hour workout on land can,” says Dipali Jain, a FISAF certified aqua specialist and fitness faculty at Symbiosis. “You weigh only 10% percent of your bodyweight in water, so if you weigh fifty kilos, you weigh only five in water. Water supports 90% of your body weight which means that for people who are overweight, exercising in water is a great way to workout without putting pressure on the joints.”

The Scientific Perspective
Water is beneficial for cardio as well as diabetic patients as the hydrostatic pressure regulates insulin levels, says Dipali. Unlike gravity, the resistance exerted by water applies in both directions, so each movement works two muscle groups and the body gets a complete toning workout. For those who have made the same New Year resolutions of losing weight year after year but have not been able to keep away from confectionary, water exercise is the solution to get the gym ball rolling. For those who have not exercised for a while, aqua aerobics can be a suitable beginning to get back to a more rigorous exercise program. For the ones who are short on motivation, you can find an exercise buddy to keep yourself regular. Aqua aerobics is also known to be an antidepressant and induces physical and mental wellbeing. This form of fitness combines a wholesome workout with the relaxing effects of a spa.

“Water is not only relaxing, but also rehabilitative and can help in the recovery of a previous injury or a surgery. It is perhaps the only workout that can be done by people of all ages from youngsters to elderly people with ailments,” says Salim Anwar, Chief Coach of Aqua Curves, a Bangalore based team of swimming and aqua aerobic experts. From arthritis patients to people with severe backaches, pregnant mothers and individuals recuperating from accidents, aqua therapy can help you regain lost flexibility without muscle or joint injury. “It also helps one to develop active muscle tissue for everyday use, particularly the core muscles that keep an individual upright,” explains Dipali.

Routine Matters
Aquatic routines are fairly simple compared to land exercise quota. Circuit-training workout incorporates exercises such as boxing punches, soccer kicks, and cross-country skiing movements. “Yoga positions in the water can also offer multiple benefits and are known to provide relaxation, relieve stiffness in the waist and rib areas, help stretch the entire body and strengthen one's arms and legs,” says Satish, an aqua aerobics coach with a swimming academy based in Bangalore.
Aquatic devices used for aerobics can vary from the 'aqua noodle' that helps people to stay afloat and enables them to cycle in water, to the water dumbbells of varying weights and sizes. These help for underwater exercises. “Balls on the water surface can also be used in floatation drills. Resistance devices, such as paddles, can be used to make such a workout more challenging,” adds Satish.

Workout Wear
You might not have the perfect beach body but don’t let your self-consciousness talk you into T-shirts and baggy shorts as they will cause too much of a drag and may cause more embarrassment if they slip off! Go for a regular swimsuit with a swim cap and earplugs if required. Many routines require appropriate sneakers or footwear so make a call to the aquatic centre for specialised requirements.

Although you are surrounded by water, a workout is still a workout even though no one might be able to tell if you are sweating or not. It is important to drink lots of water before and after the work as it is just as easy to be dehydrated on land as in water. You can even opt to carry a bottle of water with you to the pool.

Warming up and warming down before a workout session not just prepares your body but also prevents sprains and injuries. Just like in any fitness program, perform a total-body stretch at the end of your session.

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