Water Training: More Than Swimming “Upstream” for Fitness

Image for water training article You can do more than swim in a pool. Water training can be fun! Taking the plunge has many benefits, some of which make exercising in water even better than exercising on land. Read on to find out why water training is popular with people who want to stay fit and serious athletes alike.

Why You Jump in the Water

Water has many benefits that land exercise do not, such as:

  • Cushioning— 90% of your body weight is buoyant when you’re in water up to your neck. This eases the impact on joints. It also makes it easier to do exercises that may be harder on land.
  • Resistance— Water has 12 to 14 times more resistance than land. Every move you make in water increases resistance for muscles. This can help improve strength.
  • Temperature Regulation— Exercising in water helps spread out body heat to prevent overheating. You don’t feel sweaty, so water training is likely to be more comfortable than exercising on land.

Benefits of Water Exercise

There are also many physical benefits, such as:

  • Better endurance
  • Strength and flexibility
  • Weight loss
  • Better bloodflow

There are also social benefits, especially if you take group classes. Water also fosters a positive attitude, feelings of well-being, and relief from stress.

Types of Water Exercises

  • Swimming laps
  • Water aerobics
  • Water walking
  • Deep water running
  • Water yoga and relaxation
  • Water strength training
  • Water flexibility

Other Creative Water Exercises

  • Water volleyball
  • Water tennis
  • Water polo
  • Water line dancing
  • Water hip-hop
  • Water funk
  • Water Tai kwon do
  • Water Tai chi

Adjusting Workout Intensity

Water offers so much resistance. This makes increasing the intensity of a workout as easy as moving to the deeper end of the pool. Decreasing the intensity of your workout can also be done by standing in shallow water or floating on your back.

Optional Equipment

You can also use equipment to adjust the intensity of your workout, such as:

  • Flotation belts
  • Kick boards
  • Flippers
  • Resistance bands
  • Styrofoam dumbbells
  • Old tennis rackets

For example, flotation belts or kick boards can help you work less to stay afloat. This makes the workout easier. Old tennis rackets may add more resistance and let you build up muscle groups needed for that sport.

Tips on Getting Started

  1. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
  2. Shop around for a gym with a pool. Ask about group classes they may have.
  3. Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes before increasing the intensity of the workout. Stretch your muscles by walking or swimming slowly.
  4. You may want to start with water walking. It is easy to do and can be done a few forward, backward, or sideways:
    1. Normal steps
    2. Quick, short steps
    3. Long steps
    4. Step kicks
    5. Move your arms in a variety of ways
  5. Cool down by slowing down and using gentle movements that let your heart rate to return to normal.
  6. Slowly increase how long and how often you workout as your fitness level improves.

So, whether you want to dive right in or would rather ease into the water, talk with your doctor about whether water training is right for you.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
United States Water Fitness Association, Inc.


Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology


Health benefits of water-based exercise. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/swimmers/health_benefits_water_exercise.html. Accessed October 14, 2021.
Information regarding water exercise. United States Water Fitness Association, Inc. website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed October 14, 2021.
Last reviewed October 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 10/14/2021

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