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Me, Exercise?


submitted by Melanie Calvert Benton

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Last year after I had gastric bypass surgery, my doctor asked if I had plans to join a gym. The first thing I thought was I would hurt myself inside, but I was assured that I would enjoy the membership. You know after going several times, it's surprising how much better I fell. OK, I started out riding a stationary bike. I have to tell you the exercise was just plain great. It was challenging for me to use weights. I graduated to water aerobics where I actually ran, jogged and stepped around in the water. For others who were in the class, we worked so hard that we were sweating -- in the water -- a new sensation for those of us who had only done laps of the crawl in the past.

Aerobics can be defined as any physical exercise that increases the heart rate and increases the body's need for oxygen long enough to benefit the condition of the human body. Performing simple activities such as walking, running, dancing, and swimming are defined as doing aerobic exercises. This type of water exercise has been around for years, it was perfect for me because I have bad knees.

While no single exercise is perfect for everyone, Water Aerobics comes close, by conforming to my individual needs, restrictions, and abilities. By adjusting the size and speed of my movements, I could change the level of exertion to suit my needs. It allowed me to exercise every muscle and every joint in my body all at the same time. Because I exercised in water, I would perspire, but I remained cooler because the water cooled me off as I exerted myself. This is one reason why I enjoyed water aerobics, because it is popular in climates where the weather is warm.

Another benefit of water aerobics is that I could do it, even at my age. The reason for this is because the water caused my body to be buoyant, thus causing less stress on my joints and muscles. Water aerobics is a non-weight bearing exercise where water, instead of my lower extremities, supports your weight. It provides a great deal of resistance in all directions for my muscles to work against. It gave me multi-directional resistance, provided an excellent environment for rehabilitation and it gave me the freedom to do whatever I liked. Water Aerobics was an easy way for me to tone back and stay in an exercise program. Over the months, I found kindred spirits in any level class from beginner to supercharged aerobic wonders.

I need to share with you the necessity of seeing your physician before you begin any exercise program. You will need to know if you are healthy enough to begin a program and how much exercise and how intense your program should be. For those of you with diabetes, or other serious health issues, a medical identification in the form of a necklace or bracelet is mandatory. Make sure the water temperature is ideal for caloric expenditure.

The ideal location in which to perform water aerobics is an indoor pool where the water temperature is controlled. Any indoor swimming pool will suffice. Outside ponds or lakes can be used, but an indoor pool is preferred. You can do warm ups using the sides of the pool, and some of the exercises will use these also. Most pools are chlorinated, so it's essential to shower after exercising and to use a moisturizing lotion. Bring a special shampoo to rinse out the chemicals from your hair when you wash it after the class. Take a 15-gram waterproof source of quick carbohydrates with you and keep it near by. Surprise -- as I said before, a good class can lead to dehydration as you will exert energy, so make sure you drink lots of water before, during and after the class. Finally, follow the safety rules of swimming when at a water aerobics class or when you are doing your exercises. The most important rule is to follow the buddy system and never swim or perform water aerobics alone.

A person does not have to know how to swim in order to take advantage of water aerobic exercising. He or she can wear one of many devices that will enable them to stay afloat with little effort. This in turn enables the person to be able to concentrate on the routine. Plus, it may help to eliminate any fear of a mishap in the water, especially in the deeper water.

What can you do that's aerobic in a pool? You can walk, jog and run, all of which will strengthen quadriceps, hamstrings and glutei's as well develop cardio respiratory fitness. You can add ankle weights and arm weights and use a ball to push down. Then there are the games that you can play which keep you moving in many directions, stopping and starting. A good game of water polo can be the high light of an advanced class. As with any aerobic class you will start with stretches and a warm up and end with more stretches and cool down. You will start in lower water and move to water that is chest deep.

The depth of the water will also depend on the exercise you are doing. For example, jogging is usually done in deeper water so that a person's body stays completely immersed. While you move, the instructor will help you to use the water's resistance to your benefit. You will be taught to land in a heel-ball-toe action and maintain an upright position. This may sound easy, but, believe me, that's part of using the resistance of the water to strengthen your body. When you walk or jog in the water, make sure you pump your arms the same way you would if you were on land.

Once you have developed a good technique that is comfortable for you, aim to walk or jog in the water for between 20 to 40 minutes per exercise session. Water aerobics has an added benefit: it enables you to burn up calories much more efficiently. Compare the following estimates of calorie consumption for a 30-minute workout:

Land walking: 135 calories
Deep water walking; 264 calories
Jogging on land: 240 calories
Deep water jogging: 340 calories

Have I whetted your appetite yet? Please find a class and a qualified instructor who has training not only in water aerobics, but in health issues, especially diabetes. You know why you should be exercising. If you have an exercise that you want us to share with our readers, just let us know. I will be happy to not only write about them, but we'll even try them ourselves to make sure that they are appropriate. So get your water aerobic equipment ready, put on your pool shoes, get your towel ready and let's moving!

Note: This article, according to Melanie, is adapted from an article on Diabetic Lifestyle and the author is shown as BSP . We appreciate the great articles and news on this site.



Melanie C. Benton



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