From mental health, to sports specific screening, to the latest research in exercise for Cancer our goal is to give our readers an overview of not just research in various areas of health and rehabilitation but to offer our opinion from years of experience in working in these areas.
This catalogue will to continue to grow over time, so ensure that you check back regularly to see what's new, and if there is something that you would like us to write about please contact Nicole as she'd love to hear to from you.
This month we are going to focus on an exercise modality that tends to be very popular as we begin to approach the hottest time of the year … yes, you guessed it, it is water exercise. If you haven’t tried water exercise before, you don’t know what you’re missing. Water exercise has been demonstrated to have a number of benefits which include both physical and psychological. It also is a great alternative if land based exercise increases your pain or if you are recovering from an injury. Water exercise can help you:
Improve joint range of movement
Improve muscular flexibility
Improve muscular strength and endurance
Improve cardiovascular health
Improve balance and decrease falls risk
Improve the management of pain conditions such as arthritis
Improve core stability and reduce back pain
Improve blood glucose control
Reduce stress levels
When setting your physical activity goals for the New Year why not include water exercise? Most leisure centres will offer water exercise or water aerobics classes. They are a great way to improve your health and wellbeing and can help to burn off some of those extra calories that you may have stored from your many Christmas and pre-Christmas celebrations. Classes are a fun and social way of exercising which is a great incentive to help with exercise adherence long term.
When choosing a water exercise class, ensure that you choose a class appropriate to your level of fitness and experience – most leisure centres offer a brochure outlining class descriptions and often publish the information on their website. If you are unsure if a class is right for you, speak with a team member at the centre of even better still, go and observe a class. If you are unsure where your nearest leisure centre is located, you can always call your local council or refer to their website.
If you prefer to exercise on your own, consider using your own water based program. Exercises that you may want to consider using for your program are:
Walking – try walking forwards, backwards and sideways. A great way to increase the level of difficulty of this exercise is to increase the speed of the walking, swing your arms through the water as you walk or push a small kickboard forwards and backwards from your chest as you move.
Figure 8 – Holding on to the edge of the pool, move one leg in the shape of a figure 8 for a few repetitions then repeat it on the other side. This is a great exercise for the legs, hips and abdominal muscles.
Leg swinging – Swinging one leg forwards and backwards in the water is a great way to use the muscles in your legs, hips and abdominals. By altering the direction of the leg swing to a side to side action, you can focus on the muscles of your outer thigh.
Jogging punches – Try a light jog on the spot whilst moving your arms in a punching motion. This exercise can be progressed by travelling up and down the pool whilst jogging and using dumbbells whilst punching.
Squats – These are a great exercise to get the leg muscles working as well the bottom muscles. If you have balance difficulties hold on to the side of the pool for support.
Heel raises – Pushing up onto your toes and back down is a great activity for your lower leg muscles. You can try heel raises with both legs at the same time initially and then progress to a single leg.
Arm angels – This exercise is great for the upper body. Simply start with your arms straight by your sides and raise them up towards the surface of the water, then push them back down again to your starting position. You can increase the speed of the movement or add dumbbells to increase the intensity of the exercise.
Forward arm raise – A nice way to work the upper body, particularly the shoulders, start with your arms straight and down by your upper thighs (palms down), raise them up towards the surface of the water. You can introduce dumbbells to increase the level of difficulty.
Arm swings – Move your arms forwards and backwards in the water briskly. This exercise can be completed with straight or bent arms and its intensity can be increased by speeding up the movement.
Always remember that exercise is most effective when individually prescribed and we would encourage you to seek the advice of a qualified health professional to design a program based on your individual needs. The most suitable health professional to design such a program is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist.