Water Workouts a Great Alternative: Study

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Exercising in water provides the same aerobic benefits as land-based workouts, but with less wear and tear on your body, according to a new study.

The finding is good news for people who are overweight, have arthritis or other joint problems or injuries, the researchers said.

"If you can't train on land, you can train in the water and have the same benefits in terms of improving aerobic fitness," Dr. Martin Juneau, director of prevention at the Montreal Heart Institute, said in a Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada news release.

Because of the resistance of water when you move, it may seem as if you can't exercise as hard as you can on land. This study, however, found that's not the case.

Participants' workout intensity levels were monitored when they used a typical stationary bike and a special exercise bike designed for use in a pool, with water up to the chest level.

The level of workout was about the same on both types of machines, according to the study, scheduled for presentation Tuesday at a meeting of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, in Toronto.

The researchers also found that the participants' heart rates were a bit lower when they did the water workout.

"You pump more blood for each beat, so don't need as many heartbeats, because the pressure of the water on your legs and lower body makes the blood return more effectively to the heart," Juneau said. "That's interesting data that hasn't been studied thoroughly before."

Water workouts can provide a "great alternative" for people who find it difficult to exercise on land, he added.

Data and conclusions presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about water-based exercise.

SOURCE: Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, news release, Oct. 30, 2012

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