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Water fitness was once the domain of older adults - now participants of all ages and ability levels are benefiting. Recent research studies find:
People of all ages and ability levels can improve strength, endurance and body composition through effective aquatic training. Fit young men who did a periodized strength training program 3 times a week for 12 weeks significantly improved muscular strength and power and increased lean body mass. Healthy, untrained older women who did 60 minutes of shallow-water exercise (including 20 minutes of upper- and lower-body resistance training with equipment) 3 days a week for 24 weeks increased lean body mass by 3.4% and significantly improved muscular strength.
Aquatic training improves ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL). Women who participated in 60-minute shallow-water exercise classes 3 days a week for 12 weeks performed better in land-based ADL (activities of daily life).
Water properties lead to less muscle soreness and damage. A study comparing high-intensity land- and water-based plyometrics programs found that training in water produced less inflammation and muscle soreness.
Water fitness lowers blood sugar levels for people with type 2 diabetes. A recent study of 35 people with type 2 diabetes compared land-based training with aquatic exercise. All participants trained for 45 minutes 3 times a week for 12 weeks. Participants in both groups experienced a significant reduction in A1C levels—a measure of glucose control.