Consumer Reports: Water workouts

Spending time in the pool this summer won't just keep you cool, it can also help you get healthier. And these days, there are plenty of interesting ways to get moving in the water, which help improve blood pressure, brain health and strengthen your body. And health experts at Consumer Reports say another real bonus of a water workout is what it doesn't do, to your joints.

Competing in an Ironman, even a half-triathlon, is no joke. At the World Championship this September, 72-year-old Joanne Dondero will have to swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles and run just over 13 miles. Her training begins in the water.

"I can have a workout with different intensities, which can be for either strength, or endurance, flexibility, and or just relaxation," Dondero said.

"You can get a great total body workout, in a pool," said Consumer Reports Health Editor Trisha Calvo.

And not just in the lap lanes. How about trying a class that uses treadmills in the water? Or takes you for a spin on an aqua cycle?

You can improve blood pressure and brain health; burn calories and strengthen your cardiovascular system. Plus, there's an added benefit you don't get on land.

"Water is denser than air, so it provides more resistance," Calvo said. "That means you're challenging your muscles in a different way."

Stretching with aqua yoga or aqua pilates may also help improve agility and flexibility. Water workouts are also less punishing on your body.

"You're more buoyant in the water, so it's less pain and stress on your joints like your hips and your knees," Calvo said.

Which, as Joanne Dondero can attest, may allow you to stay active, longer.

Consumer Reports suggests looking around for water classes near you, but if you can't find a formal program, you can get the same benefits by walking briskly in a pool's shallow end or wearing a flotation belt to run in deep water. And whatever you choose, do it at a moderate intensity at least twice a week to reap the rewards.

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