7 methods for exercising in the water

pool workout

Get cooled off this summer by hydrating your body from the outside-in.  Keep in mind that water exercise is easier on the joints, but non-weight bearing.  In other words, it’s good for your joints because it’s more gentle for them.  There is less impact.  However, water exercise doesn’t strengthen bones the same way that weight-bearing exercise does.  Impact and force through bones helps them build stronger.

pool workout


As with most things in life there are pros and cons.  It’s great to have a variety of physical activities in your tool box.  Incorporate water exercise as part of a well-rounded fitness program.  Here are exercises to do when you find yourself “in the deep-end” of a pool or lake.

  1. Treading water.  If you’re a savvy swimmer, find a place that you can no longer touch the bottom and tread.  Use a bicycle motion, scissor kicks or frog kicks to mix it up.  Time yourself for 1-3 minutes.  Sing a favorite song in your head or aloud to time yourself if you don’t have a watch.Bonus challenge: Use just your arms or just your legs.
  2. Flutter kicks.  Rest your arms on the edge and kick your legs.  Focus on squeezing your glutes.  Keep your legs lengthened with a slight bend at the knee.  Alternate pointing and flexing your feet.Bonus challenge: Put flippers on your feet or try kicking while holding onto a noodle.  It’ll be a fun ride!
  3. Noodle abs.  It seems like an oxymoron, making it even more fun!  Lay back on a noodle, raft or side of pool if you don’t have toys.  Straighten and bend your knees to your chest.  Rotate your lower spine right and left mindfully.  Do scissor kicks.Bonus challenge: Place a towel on the front of your shins to add resistance or ankle weights if you have them.
  4. Push and Pull.  Use a noodle as resistance and keep it just below the water.  Push and pull forward and back toward you to work your arms.  Keep your shoulders down away from your ears.Bonus challenge: Change the speed to go slower and faster.
  5. Swimming.  It’s obvious, but yet we don’t do it.  Breast stroke, forward crawl, back stroke.  Take your pick.  Set a goal of how many laps you want to do and go for it!Bonus challenge: Find a friend and have a race, taking breaks in between laps to drink water.
  6. Jumping.  Try jumping out and in with your legs, like jumping jacks.  Also forward and back.  You can do scissor jumps, where one goes forward and the other back.  Jumping is much safer in the water because the impact is greatly reduced.Bonus challenge: Put on your favorite music and keep moving continuously to a full song.  It’s more fun than counting and keeps you going longer.

Here are some fun pieces of equipment to invest in for your pool.  Aqua Fitness Tools

Check out these other articles by NFPT about water exercise:

Just add water and Everyone into the pool

Do you like to exercise in the water?  Share your favorites with us in the comments!


Beverly Hosford, MA teaches anatomy and body awareness using a skeleton named Andy, balloons, play-doh, ribbons, guided visualizations, and corrective exercises. She is an instructor, author, and a business coach for fitness professionals. Learn how to help your clients sleep better with in Bev's NFPT Sleep Coach Program and dive deeper into anatomy in her NFPT Fundamentals of Anatomy Course.