Exercising in water is a non-weight-bearing activity.
If you're looking for a low-impact, joint-friendly and high-resistance leg workout, look no further than deep-water exercising. Ideal for healthy, physically challenged and the obese, exercising in water can offer many of the same benefits as land exercises, but with a lot less stress to your joints. With a few inexpensive training aids, a variety of lower-body water exercises can be performed to help strengthen and tone your leg muscles.
Keep It Simple
Grab a kickboard and jump into the deep end of a pool to perform a simple, yet effective lower-body exercise. Start at the side wall, extend your arms and hold the kickboard, horizontally, out in front of your body on the surface of the water. Push off the side wall, keep your head above the water and quickly kick your feet up and down -- flutter kick -- to move to the opposite side of the pool. Perform three to four laps. To make the exercise harder, hold the kickboard vertically in front of your body with half of it submerged or wear aqua ankle weights.
Curls and Extensions
Swap out your kickboard for a swim noodle and wrap it around your upper back with the ends held under your armpits. Start with your body vertical, your legs together and your toes pointing toward the bottom of the pool. While only bending at your knees, perform a hamstring curl and draw your heels up to the back of your butt. Return to the starting position with a quad extension movement. Perform the exercise for one minute or until fatigued.
Keep your swim noodle wrapped around your upper back and reposition your body so you are floating on your back. Start with your legs and feet together and then spread your legs until your feet are about 20 inches apart. Forcefully bring your feet back together and cross your right leg over your left ankle. Spread your legs again and as your bring your feet back together, cross your left leg over your right ankle. Continue the pattern for one minute or until fatigued.
Position the swim noodle between your legs with more of it behind than in front of your body. Without touching the bottom of the pool, keep your legs straight and scissor them forward and backward, similar to a cross-country skier. Alternate swinging your arms forward and backward below the surface of the water, similar to the way you do when you walk. Avoid tilting to the side or leaning too far forward or backward as you propel yourself from one side to the opposite side of the pool.
Safety Tips and Precautions
Even though the buoyancy of the water places less stress on your body, it's still important to perform a short warm-up to increase your circulation and prepare your muscles for the exercises. This can be done with a slow jog on land or in the shallow end of the pool. Always exercise with a friend or in the presence of a lifeguard. Not as noticeable as with land exercising, your body perspires even in the water. Because of this, it's important to stay hydrated especially in hot and humid conditions. If you experience nausea or dizziness, stop immediately and contact your doctor.
- Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images