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Get in shape without hurting your joints with these pool exercises.

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If you’re looking for an invigorating fitness routine this summer but need to go easy on your joints due to arthritis or other joint pain, look no further than your local pool. Water workouts are easy on your joints while offering an effective way to burn calories, strengthen muscles, improve flexibility and boost your heart health.

Can’t bear the thought of doing laps or don’t really know how to swim? That’s okay. There are many types of exercises you can do in the pool that don’t require you to swim – in fact they can be done right in the shallow end of the pool.

Here are 5 to try:

  1. Squat jump. Stand in shallow water and extend your arms sideways at shoulder height. Squat down, as if you are sitting on a chair. Then jump up through the water as high as you can as you extend your arms over your head.  Repeat for 1 to 3 minutes.
  2. Bicycle pedals. Hold on to the side of the pool with your arms outstretched and your back to the edge. Pedal your legs as if you were riding a bicycle, dragging them through the water. Keep moving for 1 to 3 minutes.
  3. Crunches. Still holding on to the side of the pool with your back to the edge, extend your legs straight out in front of you. Alternate pulling both knees up into your chest and then extending your legs straight again. Do for 1 to 3 minutes.
  4. Upper body weight training. You can do the same types of exercises with weights in the water as you can do on land, such as bicep curls, triceps pushes, flies and rows. The main difference is that doing the exercises in water is easier on your joints.
  5. One leg balance. Stand in waist-high water and lift one knee up, placing a noodle under your raised foot. Keep your hands by your side and balance on one leg with your foot on the middle of the noodle. Aim for 1 minute on each side. For an added challenge, lift your arms above your head as you balance.

For a full body workout, jog in place for 1 to 3 minute intervals between exercises. Keep knees high as you alternate feet in waist-high water. Jogging at a high intensity in the water can burn 17 calories a minute.

Always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you have a health condition.

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Date Last Reviewed: May 14, 2019

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Andrew P. Overman, DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS

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