Pool fitness: Different strokes for aquatic folks

Mon May 31, 2010 6:19am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Young or old, active or aching, just about everyone can buoy their workout by plunging into the pool, fitness experts say.

But whether you're swimming laps or pedaling inside an inner tube, there's more to aquatic fitness than just splashing around.

"Swimming is just a great overall fitness activity. You're using all your muscle groups, balancing your body in that environment," said Dr. Barbara Bushman, an expert with the American College of Sports Medicine.

Even at the shallow end aquatic exercises can improve balance in older people and help anyone with joint or orthopedic problems to stay fit.

"Anytime you're in the water you can basically unweight the body," Bushman explained. "There's the support of fluid around you."

Bushman, a professor at Missouri State University who describes herself as a runner forced into the pool by a stress fracture of the tibia, admits she is not a good swimmer.

"The only thing my doctor cleared me for was deep water running. The deeper the submergence, the greater the resistance," she explained.

"In the pool you have to focus on good form. My form actually improved."   Continued...

<p>People take part in a water aerobics class at the Bedford-Stuyvesant YMCA in Brooklyn, New York, March 2010. REUTERS/YMCA of Greater New York/Handout</p>