Exercise in water improves fitness levels

By By Lynne Myhre and By Lynne Myhre

By Lynne Myhre

Exercising in water is easier than a regular workout and more effective, even for young, healthy adults, researchers at Washington State University say.

The study found that university students who exercised in water tired less easily than their land-based counterparts, while still significantly improving their lung function.

Differences in lung function were negligible at the beginning of the study and both groups performed the same exercises and movements.

Erik Dunlap instructed both groups of students and noted that the land-based group tired more easily in the beginning of the study. As time went on, they adapted to the workout and their endurance improved.

Those in the water had a different experience, however.

“The pool group never noticed a tremendous amount of fatigue, but they noticed more fitness in general outside of the pool,” Dunlap said.

The study was led by the university’s adjunct professor and physician, Bruce Becker, and assistant professor Susan Borjesson, a doctorate in exercise physiology.

The researchers acknowledged that the water group may have been able to “cheat” a little on the exercises, since their bodies were not fully visible. But regardless of whether they put out less effort, their breathing capacity still improved more than that of students exercising on land.

The study was the first to examine the pulmonary effects of working out in water.

“I think the world just needs to look out for water aerobics,” Borjesson said.

Heidi Miller, who works as a lifeguard at the U’s HPER complex pools for the summer, believes exercising in water is better for a person’s body than running.

“It’s low-impact, so it’s easier on your body,” Miller said. “And it’s a true full-body workout.”

Exercising in water burns more calories, said Alpha Bagley, a junior mass communication major and lifeguard supervisor at the HPER.

“And it’s nice, too, because you stay cool while getting a workout,” Bagley said.

Several classes at the U cater to those looking for in-the-water workouts. Swimming, water polo and scuba diving are some of the offerings this summer and fall.