Water aerobics is any form of aerobic exercise that takes place in water. While this definition includes swimming, treading water and sports such as water polo, the term is most often used to describe exercises done while standing in 3 to 4 feet of water in a swimming pool.
Any exercise that can be done standing up, such as jumping jacks, running in place or knee-lifts, can be done in a pool. Often, a floatation device, such as a ball or a paddle board, is used to increase resistance. Moving a buoyant rubber ball underwater can provide a good upper body workout. Water aerobics are particularly suited to elderly people and people with back pain or other health issues. They are often used by athletes to rehabilitate following an injury or for cross-training. Immersion in water helps cushion stiff joints and protects fragile bones against injuries caused by high-impact exercises. It also reduces the amount of body weight borne by the legs, making water aerobics popular with pregnant women. At the same time, water provides resistance, making even basic movements more challenging. This aspect of water aerobics provides for more intense cardiovascular workouts. While being immersed in water can help prevent overheating, it is still important to remain hydrated by drinking plenty of water.