Water workouts are easy on the joints and can be more inviting than a jog around the block, especially during a heat wave. But can water workouts deliver the same conditioning punch as land-based exercise?
The debate heated up recently, after Werner Hoeger of Boise State University compared the effects of land and water workouts by 30 people. The water workouts did not raise heart rates as much as land exercise and were therefore less intense, he found.
Water exercisers must work harder to obtain the same training effects as landlubbers, he told colleagues attending the American College of Sports Medicine meeting.
Not so, others say.
Here are two views:
Werner Hoeger, exercise physiologist, Boise State University
"I'm all for water aerobics, particularly for those with joint problems and for those who want to cross-train. You definitely can get a training benefit, but you might have to exercise about 15% longer than your normal land workout at the same exertion to get the same aerobic benefit. None of the subjects reached the same maximum heart rate in the water as they did on land."
Ruth Sova, president, Aquatic Exercise Assn.
"Heart rates will be lower in the water because the heart does not have to beat (as) fast to dissipate the heat, (but) water workouts can be as intense as land (exercises). You can take it easier if you want. People in the (Boise State) study did in-place movements. Traditional water aerobics involves variations such as moving frontward and backward, using the arms and so on. The depth of the water also has an effect. Midriff level seems to work best."