Bad News—Water aerobics will do very little for heart fitness.

This isn’t vigorous lap swimming; it’s the so-called water aerobics, the classes you participate in with colorful implements… or perhaps you do this on a solitary basis. It’s not to be confused with swimming laps.

If you’ve been participating only in water aerobics because you believe this is all that your cardiorespiratory system (heart and lungs) needs, you are very much mistaken.

Water aerobics alone are not enough for cardiovascular fitness.

From an anecdotal perspective, think of it this way: As a mammal, you live on dry land.

It only stands to reason that your primary aerobic exercise for heart health and fitness should take play on dry land, and that water aerobics should be treated as an adjunct or supplement to your land workouts.

Water aerobics, for the purpose of this article, pertains to “aquasize” or group classes in which participants don’t do any actual lap swimming, but instead, occupy a space cushion and perform various movements including bobbing, twisting, swiveling, kicking and arm motions.

Also for the purpose of this article, my target audience are those without orthopedic issues that make it difficult to perform cardio exercise on dry land.

The water makes things too easy for the non-orthopedically challenged person.

Many senior citizens (and obese younger people) can actually derive an effective dry land cardio workout, but instead elect to do only water aerobics.

Many Water Aerobics Participants Are not Even Elderly

In fact, every time I see a water aerobics class in session, at least half the participants appear to be under age 60.

I also see participants in the locker room before or just after classes.

Most are considerably overweight, which is all the more reason why dry land exercise is so important.

A person who’s mobile enough to walk into a gym without assistance is mobile enough to do dry land aerobics — and to drive up heart fitness, the session need not be continuous, but interval style.

Many water aerobics enthusiasts do not do any other form of exercise.  Dry land exercise is crucial for heart health. 

Even if a 10 minute walk wears you down, that counts as heart smart exercise.

Go for 10 minutes at a time, three times a day, to get started.

Another venue is strength training. Waving around Styrofoam tubes in the water is not true strength training.

Strength training in older adults has many benefits including that for cardiac health.

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.