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September 13, 2013
Creative Living
A Great Way to Exercise
by Dian Thomas

As we age, it seems as though we get a few more pains. That becomes a challenge when we want to keep up our exercise programs. With a sore arch I have turned to exercising in water the past few weeks, and it has been wonderful.

No matter where you are on the physical fitness spectrum, water is a great place to be. When I weighed 300-plus pounds, I was too heavy to do much of anything on dry land, but in the water I was buoyant and it supported my joints. This was the perfect place to begin.

Amber Morgan, director of the pool at the Holladay-Lions Fitness and Recreation Center where I work out, said that if you are in waist-high water, it will hold 60 percent of your body weight. When you are chest high, it is 70 percent, and when you are in up to your neck, it holds 80 percent.

Water activities allowed me to ease into exercising. It’s a great place to start.

Amber also taught me the five levels of water exercise. If you are a beginner, check with your doctor before starting the first level, and then work your way up. If you are physically strong, start at the level that best fits your ability. If you’re not a swimmer, don’t worry. You can stay in the shallow end, wear a foam belt, or use a foam noodle. I have met many people who don’t swim but still get a great workout at the pool.

Here are the levels you can work through to lose weight and gain greater strength and mobility:

  1. Deep water: This is a low-impact exercise. Some of the movements you can imitate in the water are jogging, bicycling, and cross-country skiing. To stay upright in the water, use a foam belt, life jacket, or foam noodle.

  2. Low resistance in shallow water: In this level, you stand waist high and water walk and exercise at the side of the pool. For example, if you want to do push-ups, stand at the edge of the pool, lean out at an angle, then push up; the greater the angle, the greater the resistance.

  3. Resistance water: Many pools have a current channel or lazy river, an area where water is jet-forced into a current. You begin by walking with the current and then against it. Being the only one in the current can be extra challenging.

  4. Water aerobics classes: Almost every pool offers these exercise classes. I like them because I can move my body in the water in ways that I cannot move on land.

  5. Swimming: When you swim at a good pace, you can burn more calories than by running. I have heard experts say that swimming is the best type of exercise there is.

Many people who consider themselves on the plus side hesitate to get into the pool because they are embarrassed to expose their bodies. I decided to do it anyway, because once in the pool, all people can see is your head and a little upper body.

Wear something in which you feel comfortable and not overexposed. Some women prefer shorts and a T-shirt to cover their bulges, or they buy a plus-size swimsuit that provides modest coverage and support so they don’t feel as conspicuous.

For more ideas like this one, check out Tipping the Scales in Your Favor. Permanent weight-loss is not a diet; it is a lifestyle change. There is no one "magic bullet." Instead, it's a matter of consistently incorporating a number of steps that include exercise, eating right and accountability. It's like leading a symphony: you've got to have all the instruments playing at the same time or you don't get the results.

In Dian's new book, Tipping the Scales in Your Favor, she shares step-by-step what she did to lose more than 100 lbs. and keep up an active lifestyle.  The pages of the book come alive with practical tips, healthy recipes, more than 175 beautiful color illustrations and her refreshing and honest story of the journey. Paperback (226 pages) go to http://www.dianthomas.com.


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