No matter where you are on the physical fitness spectrum, wateris a great place to be. When I weighed 300-plus pounds, I was tooheavy to do much of anything on dry land, but in the water I was buoyant and it supported my joints. This was the perfect place to begin.
Amber Morgan, director of the pool at the Holladay-Lions Fitnessand Recreation Center where I work out, said that if you are inwaist-high water, it will hold 60 percent of your body weight.When you are chest high, it is 70 percent, and when you are inup to your neck, it holds 80 percent.
Water activities allowed me to ease into exercising. It’s a greatplace to start. Amber also taught me the five levels of water exercise.If you are a beginner, check with your doctor before starting the first level,and then work your way up. If you are physically strong, start atthe level that best fits your ability. If you’re not a swimmer, don’t worry.You can stay in the shallow end, wear a foam belt, or use a foam noodle. I have met many people who don’t swim but still get a great workout at the pool.
Here are the levels you can work through to lose weight and gaingreater strength and mobility:
1. Deep water: This is a very low-impact exercise. Some of themovements you can imitate in the water are jogging, bicycling,and cross-country skiing. To stay upright in the water, use a foambelt, life jacket, or foam noodle.
2. Low resistance in shallow water: In this level, you stand waisthigh and water walk and exercise at the side of the pool. For example,if you want to do push-ups, stand at the edge of the pool,lean out at an angle, then push up; the greater the angle, thegreater the resistance.
3. Resistance water: Many pools have a current channel or lazyriver, an area where water is jet-forced into a current. You beginby walking with the current and then against it. Being the onlyone in the current can be extra challenging.
4. Water aerobics classes: Almost every pool offers these exerciseclasses. I like them because I can move my body in the water inways that I cannot move on land.
5. Swimming: When you swim at a good pace, you can burn morecalories than by running. I have heard experts say that swimmingis the best type of exercise there is.
Many people who consider themselves on the plus side hesitateto get into the pool because they are embarrassed to expose theirbodies. I decided to do it anyway, because once in the pool, allpeople can see is your head and a little upper body.Wear something in which you feel comfortable and not overexposed.
Some women prefer shorts and a T-shirt to cover theirbulges, or they buy a plus-size swimsuit that provides modest coverageand support so they don’t feel as conspicuous. Bothwww.womanwithin.com and www.roamans.com sell swimsuitsand swim dresses up to size 34. Get started—you’ll find that the pool is cool!
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