Striving to maintain or achieve healthy habits this summer? Sunshine and warm weather might coax you outside, but they won’t motivate you to exercise! There is a cooler, more gentle way to maintain your body without the labor-intensive or painful problems of traditional workouts.
The problem with exercising on land for a lot of people is the stress it puts on the body. Impact with hard floors jolts the joints. Lying on the ground hurts your spine and causes painful knots in the muscles. And running in the summer heat? You might as well lie down under a heat lamp!
A lot of people forget or don’t realize how much water helps condition the body. It adds resistance without putting stress on your joints. Swimming is one of the most effective all-over-body exercises. And who wouldn’t want to stay cool and have fun this summer while working out?
Here are three effective and easy exercises to try in the pool:
Like the traditional floor bicycle, this exercise works your thighs and lower abdomen for toning and fat-burning results. Instead of putting pressure on your back on hard, uncomfortable floors, however, the water bicycle adds extra toning in your arms because it requires you to hold yourself up.
Go to the 4- or 5-foot section of a pool—somewhere you can’t touch the floor when propped up on the wall. With your back to the wall, prop yourself up on your elbows so your lower body is still in the water. Proceed with three or four sets of 15 bicycle kicks.
Double Leg Lift
This is similar to the water bicycle in that leg lifts are commonly done on land—on the same kind of hard, uncomfortable flooring. This water-based version will still work your abdomen and help tone some of the harder muscles to reach with crunches alone.
Again, you’ll need to be in a part of the pool where you can’t stand when propped up on the wall. With your back to the wall, prop yourself up on your elbows and lower your legs straight down, then kick them up as high as you can. Repeat for three sets of 15 reps.
Cross Knees to Elbows
There’s a certain dread that crosses through some people’s minds when it comes to cardio exercise—the nightmare of middle school gym classes running the mile or doing synchronized jumping jacks. Swimming is great cardio by itself, but adding specific exercises we do on land in the pool, where the resistance of the water is acting on you, strengthens your muscles and provides great cardio.
For cross knees to elbows, you’ll want to be in the shallow end (most likely the 3-foot section). Stand with a good area of uninhabited space around you. Bring one elbow down across your body and the opposite knee up to meet it. Hold your core tight and remember to breathe. Then, switch sides. Continue this for three sets of 10 or 15 reps.
Feel free to kick the number of sets and reps up or knock it down. It’s important to start at your level and work up slowly to avoid straining muscles. The most important thing to remember about exercise is that it’s all about progress, not perfection. Results will follow the hard work you put in. Focus on the fun while keeping healthy this summer, and remember that it’s always more fun to work out with a friend.