By Karen Creasey

There is a general misconception that water aerobics is suitable for only pregnant women and the elderly.  But in all reality water aerobics, done right, can prove to be a very intense workout for all ages and fitness levels – even the professional athlete who needs to cross train can find benefit in water aerobics.  In fact, this type of exercise has been shown to provide many of the same benefits in terms of physical fitness as land-based training programs.

There are a number of unique pluses to this type of exercise. It provides significant cardiovascular and strength training benefits due to the water’s built-in natural resistance to movement and hydrostatic pressure.  The duel effects of buoyancy and resistance create an environment that requires high levels of energy expenditure with relatively little movement or strain on low-joint extremities.

In water aerobics exercise, water surrounds the exerciser during the entire exercise routine making resistance three-dimensional.  Depending on the force exerted, the speed of movement, and the surface area presented, the range of resistance obtained will adjust and add to the challenge of the workout.

This type of exercise increases lung capacity as well, forcing the lungs to work harder as a result of the waters hydrostatic pressure.  The pressure of the water on the chest wall during aquatic exercise opposes the muscles that expand the chest for breathing.  With regular water exercise, this resistance can strengthen these muscles and subsequently enable intake of a greater volume of air when involved in land activities.

When the body is submerged, the water environment provides a wider range of motion to the joints, which in turn can increase flexibility.  Aquatic exercise provides a mode for performing difficult stretches that may not be as possible otherwise.  And according to the American Council on Exercise, water buoyancy reduces the “weight” of a person up to 90 percent. This “reduction” subsequently lessens the burden on stress-bearing joints and muscles.  It is possible that if you are having difficulty performing specific joint movements on land, you may find relief when moving in similar fashion underwater.

The Palm Desert Aquatic Center currently offers multiple water aerobics classes throughout the week.  They range from shallow to deep, challenging to less strenuous, and early in the day to later in the evening. Call 760-565-7467 or go to for more information.