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Published on December 23, 2021

5 Great Water Workouts for the Winter

5 Great Water Workouts for the Winter

You’ve made the decision to start a new exercise routine, and you have your schedule all mapped out. But colder temperatures and shorter days might have you re-considering your plan. If so, it’s time to think outside the box — and jump into the pool!

When you imagine the pool, your first thought might be lounging on a float during a warm summer day. The pool is more than that, though. It can be a great workout option especially when it’s cold outside. Instead of braving dark roads and cold winds for your outdoor exercise — both of which can pose safety risks — come inside and hop in the pool. There are lots of different water exercises that can strengthen your muscles without leaving you vulnerable to the winter weather elements.

A medical fitness facility, like Sagewell Health & Fitness, can help you design a water workout to meet your winter fitness goals. Once you’re in the pool, give these exercises a try:

  1. Water walking: This great introductory exercise teaches you to create the resistance that’s critical to working your muscles in water. Stand tall in at least waist-deep water and stretch your spine. Tighten your core, keep your arms at your side and move them as you walk normally through the water. To make it more challenging, use ankle weights and/or water resistance arm weights/bells to create a more intense workout that focuses on your arms, core, and lower body. Don’t tiptoe — step heel-to-toe. Walk for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Leg shoots: Try this exercise where you can’t easily touch the bottom of the pool to concentrate on your lower back, core, and legs. Pull your knees to your chest and thrust your legs and feet in front of you so you’re lying on your back. Bring your knees back to your chest and push your legs out behind you. This will flip you over so you’re floating on your stomach. That equals one repetition. Do 8-12 repetitions for 1-3 sets.
  3. High-knee lift extensions: In waist-deep water, tighten your core while lifting your leg and bending your knee until you reach the top water level. Hold that position for a few seconds. Push your leg straight out, holding for another few seconds. While extended, alternate pointing your toes and flexing your foot. Keep your leg straight and slowly bring it back down. Add ankle weights to this core- and lower-body exercise for an additional challenge. Repeat with your other leg and continue for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Jumping jacks: Stand in chest-deep water with your feet together and arms down by your side. Jump and push your legs out while bringing your arms to at least the surface of the water. Raise them over your head if you can do it comfortably. Return to your starting position for your second jump, and repeat. Pump up the intensity with ankle weights. Add water resistance arm weights/bells to increase resistance in this upper- and lower-body exercise. Try for 8-12 repetitions and 1-3 sets.
  5. Leg kicks: While holding onto the side of the pool, try each of these kicks for 1-3 minutes: flutter-kick, breaststroke kick, dolphin kick, and scissor-kick. For a challenge, move perpendicularly from the wall and use water resistance weights/bells straight out in front of you. Kick toward the wall while holding in your core. The wall will hold you in place while you are kicking.

These water exercises are a great option during the winter months, but don’t forget about them when it gets warmer. They work every major muscle group and offer excellent cardiovascular benefits. Plus, they’re a safer workout option if you have balance trouble or any injuries or joint problems. Keep at it, and they’ll be an integral part of your fitness regimen!

About the Expert

Laura Fullman BrownLaura Fullman Brown is the manager of recreation and aquatics at Cone Health in Greensboro. She is a certified aquatic fitness instructor who received her degree from the University of Cincinnati. With more than two decades of experience in leading aquatic fitness classes and programs, as well as leading safety certification training, she brings substantial experience to Sagewell Health & Fitness.

5 Great Water Workouts for the Winter