The Best Pool Exercises

If you’re looking for a change in your fitness routine, why not try pool exercises? Water aerobics can provide an excellent total-body activity minus some of the disadvantages of land exercises. And let’s be honest, it’s summer; what could be more refreshing in those hot months than being submerged in water burning calories?

Let’s take a look at the benefits of water workouts, along with some water aerobics exercises you should try this summer.

swimming benefits

Swimming Benefits

Working out in the pool can target the same muscle groups but offers heavier resistance, making them more challenging in water. The heavier resistance your muscles sustain, the more calories you burn in a shorter amount of time. Water exercises allow you to get great cardio while also improving your:

  • strength
  • endurance
  • flexibility

The resilience of water also offers further support for your muscles and joints, allowing you to work out harder while taking fewer hits on your body.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s beneficial for people with joint conditions, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, to add swimming exercises to their routine. It’s also a gentler kind of exercise for expecting women and people with:

Best Water Aerobic Exercises

water aerobics

Walking In The Pool

Walking in a pool is an excellent way to start off. It helps you get familiar with the feeling of heavier resistance. Simply walking in water can work your arms, core, as well as lower body. You can even raise the intensity by using ankle weights.

  1. Start by walking in shallow parts of the pool (around waist height).
  2. Extend your spine and walk, focusing on your heel first and then your toes instead of your tiptoes.
  3. Keep your arms at your side and move them as you would when walking on land.
  4. Squeeze your core and try to stand tall when you walk.
  5. Do that for 5-10 minutes.

Water Arm Lifts

Arm lifts in the water help strengthen the muscles in your arms. Using foam dumbbells can help supplement more resistance to this exercise.

  1. Stand in the pool with the water up to your shoulders.
  2. Grasp the dumbbells at your side, palms facing up.
  3. Pull your elbows close to your chest and lift your forearms to the height of the water.
  4. Turn your wrists palms face down.
  5. Drop your arms back to the opening position.
  6. Do 1-3 sets of 12 reps with each arm.

water weights

Lateral Arm Lifts

Lateral lifts target your upper body and are also best performed with foam dumbbells.

  1. Stand with the water up to your shoulders.
  2. Grasp the dumbbells by your side.
  3. Lift your arms to the side until the height of the water and your shoulders.
  4. Lower your arms back down, slowly engaging those shoulders.
  5. Do 1-3 sets of 12 repetitions.

Back Wall Glide

The back wall glide exercise helps target the muscles in your core and lower body.

  1. Hold onto the ledge of the pool, tucking your knees into your chest. Press your feet into the wall.
  2. Push yourself off the wall and float on your back.
  3. Press your feet down to the bottom of the pool, and run back to the wall.
  4. Do this exercise for 5-10 minutes.

Jumping Jacks In The Water

Jumping jacks work both your upper and lower body muscles. In addition, you can add resistance with wrist and ankle weights.

  1. Stand with the water at chest level with your feet together and your arms at your side.
  2. Jump by pushing your legs outward and bringing your arms over your head.
  3. Do 1-3 sets of 12 repetitions.

water jumping jacks

High-knee Lift Extensions

This exercise works the muscles in your core and lower body. Add ankle weights to raise the intensity.

  1. Stand in the pool at waist height.
  2. Squeeze your core as you raise your right leg, flexing your knee until your leg reaches the water surface.
  3. Hold with your leg elevated for a few seconds.
  4. Keeping it straight, slowly lower your leg down.
  5. Perform this move with the other leg.
  6. Continue for 5-10 minutes.

Leg Kicks

This exercise targets the muscles in your core and legs. Use ankle weights to add more intensity.

  1. Hold onto the pool ledge.
  2. Flutter-kick your legs.
  3. Scissor-kick open and closed.
  4. Breaststroke kick with your legs.
  5. Do dolphin kicks.
  6. Do each kick for 3 minutes.

Additional Swimming Exercises Tips

  • You may work more than you realize when you’re working out in the water, so make sure to stay hydrated before and after you work out.
  • Use a floatable device if you’re not a keen swimmer, like a buoyancy belt or floating vest.
  • Avoid exercising in a heated pool (above 90°F (32°C)).

Stop exercising if you experience the following:

  • lightheadedness or dizzy
  • weak breathing
  • queasiness
  • pain or pressure in your chest 


Water exercises are a powerful way to diversify your cardio workouts while also growing the major muscle groups in your body. Pool exercises are beneficial for anyone with joint issues, injuries, or balance concerns. Speak to a doctor before starting any new exercise routine or if you have any existing health concerns.

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