Running is one of the most popular exercises on the planet, and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn't at least tried running once before.
Not only is running a fantastic activity that plays an important role in strength and conditioning, but it also boosts aerobic fitness and helps to maintain healthy body weight. However, one of the downsides of running is that, for most people, it takes a heavy toll on their body and, over time, can lead to serious long-term joint and muscle damage.
Recently, one variation of running has seen a massive boom in popularity is Aqua running. Aqua running or 'pool running' takes advantage of the benefits of running but without the impact. Many find the water’s buoyancy particularly helpful when aqua running as body weight is lowered by as much as 90%. This means less stress on the joints allowing longer and more frequent workouts.
But apart from the low-impact benefits of running in the pool, aqua running offers many more advantages, some of which you might not be familiar with. Before we get into the benefits of aqua running, let's take a deeper look at the science behind water therapy.
Why add pool running to your fitness program?
For centuries, cultures have utilised the powerful benefits of water ie hydrotherapy, and in recent times, this popular therapeutic treatment has gained favour once again. Scientists believe it’s a combination of the water's “biodynamic” and “physiological” properties that benefit the body and mind.
Hydrotherapy, or 'water therapy', comes in many forms, with an array of techniques and methods used by health professionals to treat everything from chronic pain and arthritis to boosting aerobic fitness and increasing flexibility.
According to researchers, water has many powerful physiological benefits that improve heart health and increase blood flow and circulation. One of the biggest advantages of aqua running is the hydrostatic pressure which improves blood circulation and reduces inflammation, particularly important for athletes, the elderly and those suffering from medical conditions.
Another which water therapy benefits the body is by relaxing your muscles. This, in turn, reduces muscle cramps while increasing flexibility and range of motion (ROM).
Researchers have found the following benefits of the Aquatic environment:
- Increased blood flow and circulation
- Improvements in muscle size and strength
- Dramatic improvements in balance and coordination
- Reductions in pain, and
- Improved heart health and cardiovascular fitness levels
Water therapy can used to treat almost every musculoskeletal condition. Moreover, hydrotherapy is a Godsend for people who can’t exercise on land due to the pain and discomfort caused by the high impact on the body's joints and ligaments.
For those recovering from an injury, the water provides peace of mind knowing that they can work on their body or rehabilitation without having to worry about worsening the injury.
Furthermore, the buoyancy provided by the water makes it incredibly easy to move and helps to increase flexibility and range of motion. For those with mobility challenges like the elderly, ill or injured, the water puts their mind to ease, knowing there is no risk of falling and injuring themselves further.
Generally speaking, the type, duration, and intensity of water therapy prescribed to patients are dependent on several factors, including:
- The severity of the injury
- Overall health and well-being
- Pre-existing conditions
- Body type, and
- Patient needs
The top 5 benefits of running in a pool
The benefits of running in the pool go far beyond recovery and rehabilitation. Below are five amazing benefits that you’ll experience every time you work out in your home pool.
Running in water quickens recovery
Playing sports and staying active is not only critical to our overall physical health and well-being but being active is a great way to relieve the stresses of everyday life. Unfortunately, though, as with most things in life, the good comes with the bad, and in this case, the bad comes in the form of injury.
What makes recovering from an injury challenging is that many of the exercises and activities prescribed can actually place the patients at more risk if not performed correctly. The reason for this is that most exercises place further impact on the joints.
This is where the beauty of water therapy comes in. Not only does the water allow those undergoing rehabilitation to recover quicker, but it strengthens the muscles and improves mobility in a safe, relaxing, and healing environment.
Using a treadmill such as the Hydrorider Aqua Treadmill Easyline to run in the pool is an excellent way to speed recovery, particularly if you've suffered an injury to your lower body, such as a strained muscle or a broken bone.
The Hydrorider Aqua Treadmill is low-impact, highly beneficial, and a great way to strengthen your muscles. A gradual level of weight bearing can be introduced by controlling water depth after a lower limb injury or broken ankle.
Running in water is a Low-Impact activity
There's no denying that running on land is a great way to maintain fitness, relieve stress, and boost health and longevity. However, running on land also takes a toll on your body, particularly your hips, ankles, and knees.
Running in the water, though, is another story. The waters buoyancy reduces body weight by as much as 80%, meaning that a once "high-impact" exercise like running now becomes a "low-impact" activity that feels great and benefits the body.
For instance, the Hydrorider Aqua Treadmill is the ideal addition to any home pool and is perfect for users suffering from bad knees and hips. Hydrostatic pressure created by the water also helps reduce inflammation, improving flexibility and range of motion; now, that's a win-win.
Running in water provides a full body workout
When you run on land, most of the work is done by your lower muscle groups, such as your hamstrings, quads, glutes, and calves. However, when you run in water, your body is forced to engage more muscles to combat the water's resistance and turbulence.
Aqua running emphasizes muscle groups that aren't typically engaged while running on land, well, at least not to the extent they are when running on your Hydrorider Treadmill. Some of the muscle groups engaged while running in the water are:
- Lower and upper back
- Arms, and
When you engage more muscle groups, not only do you get stronger, but you burn more calories too. This is especially important as weight adds to bdy impact on land. The lighter you are the less the impact when you are out of an aquatic environment.
Running in water increases your strength and conditioning
A study undertaken by researchers at the renowned Texas A & M concluded that traditional strength training, paired with water running, was much more effective at building muscle and size when compared to weight lifting.
Moreover, not only did the combination of aqua running and strength training beat traditional weight lifting, but it also beat the combination of weight lifting and running on dry land.
The reason is that the resistance provided by the water pushes your muscles to work overtime. Balancing in the water while running is also tricky, so you're forced to engage more muscle groups, making you stronger and even helping you to burn more calories.
Running in water burns calories
Running in the water is an excellent way to burn calories without worrying about injury normally associated with running on dry land. Because running in water is low-impact, you can train for longer and at greater intensities.
Running in the water doesn't have that grueling feeling, but don't be fooled. According to a study conducted by Dr. Wilder at the University of Virginia, running in the water burns 11.5 calories a minute. That means if you're a 70kg athlete running in the water for an hour, you will burn a whopping 704 calories.
It’s important to note that the number of calories you'll burn will depend on factors like body weight, speed and movement but regardless, you're going to burn more calories while lessening the impact on your body.
Simply put, the more you're able to train, the more calories you can burn. The low-impact nature of water running means you can work out every day without having to worry about overtraining or placing added stress on your joints and ligaments.
Running in water improves flexibility and range of motion
Did you know that the temperature of the water helps to relax your muscles as well as reduces your overall body weight? Why is that important, you're asking? Well, this bodyweight reduction not only takes the stress off your body but allows a full range of motion in your joints.
Flexibility is also significantly increased when running in the pool. The gentle ebbs and flows of the water provide a natural massage to your muscles which helps to loosen them, resulting in greater flexibility, quicker recovery, and feels great too.
Seniors with arthritis or joint pain can benefit greatly from pool running as it increases their range of motion in a low-impact and safe manner. Additionally, athletes recovering from a sprained or twisted ankle can benefit significantly as the water's resistance strengthens the ankle and increases its range of motion.
Underwater Treadmill vs Deep Water Running Belt
Whilst a slightly higher investment there are two significant differences between deep water running with a foam belt and a quality aqua treadmill.
1. Buoyancy Level Control
When using an underwater treadmill, you can vary buoyancy. By being submerged in water on a treadmill, you can reduce your weight up to 90% depending on the water depth. For example, a 80kg runner underwater has to carry only 8kgs of body weight. With a treadmill buoyancy levels can be altered depending on rehabilitation or training stage. For example, deep with high buoyancy after a limb break and moved shallower gradually on the journey to weight bearing and additional strength. You cannot vary buoyancy with a deep water running belt.
2. Control Over The Running Movement
Running with a deep water belt reduces the impact but there is no control over the movement. The turbulence of the water can destabilise the movement. This does not help an athlete to train effectively or maintain form. This also does not assist a person relearning to walk properly after an injury or illness.
Using an aqua treadmill rather than an aqua running belt gives a focal point and structure to the running movement, enabling the benefits of water while more closely mimicking the correct running position, stride and gait patterning. There can be control and guidance of the movement from a qualified professional.
The Hydrorider Aqua Treadmill Easyline
Underwater treadmills are just that; they are treadmills placed in your pool that allow you to work out in a low-impact way while boosting your fitness, increasing your strength, and, of course having FUN.
The hot Aussie climate makes underwater treadmills like the Hydrorider Aqua the perfect addition to any home gym setup.
Hydrorider Aqua Treadmill features:
- 308 Shock absorbing rollers
- Fully adjustable handles
- Made from marine-grade stainless steel
- Light and portable
- Incredibly robust and durable
- On wheels and easy to move and roll up the pool wall rather than lift
The Hydrorider Aqua treadmill has 308 floating rollers that move independently of each other, allowing for optimum shock absorption. The handlebars are fully adjustable and ergonomic in design and move vertically and horizontally to accommodate all types of body shapes and heights.
Manufactured using advanced marine-grade stainless steel, the Hydrorider Aqua is not only lightweight but incredibly robust and durable. Coupled with our two-year warranty, you will be hard-pressed to find another piece of fitness equipment that offers as much.
In the past, foam running belts were used to run in the pool, and while they were reasonably effective for reducing impact, aqua treadmills provide many more benefits. For instance, running on an aqua treadmill closely replicates the technique of running on dry land. This is particularly important for more serious runners who pay great attention to their stride and gait.
Get started: Home pool running workouts
The primary benefit of pool running is that it's low-impact on your body's joints and ligaments.
As with any activity, you can follow a wide variety of exercise plans, including interval training and longer workouts designed to improve your aerobic fitness. Interval training, though, packs a real punch and is perfect for those crunched for time.
One thing to remember when designing your fitness plan is that, first and foremost, running in the pool should be fun. In that sense, it really doesn't matter which exercise plan you choose as long as it is challenging, consistent, and FUN.
When running in the pool, following the same warm-up and cool-down protocols you would if you were running on land is essential. Do not make the mistake of just "smashing out" a workout the body takes time to warm up. In heated water this time is shorter but still required.
Another benefit of running in water is that your heart rate recovers quicker than on land; this reduces your recovery time between sets and allows you to get a great workout in a limited time.
Below are three workouts for pool running to get you started. Feel free to change the number of sets and the recovery time between sets. You can also make the workouts longer or shorter in duration and modify the intensity to meet your fitness levels.
Alternatively you can seek a professional to put a program together for your specific needs that you can do in the connivence of your pool at home.
Pool running workout 1
Workout 1 is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) program designed to pack a punch in a short amount of time. HIIT has been shown to burn fat from the midsection and improve aerobic fitness by as much as 15%.
- 5 mins running at an easy warm-up intensity
- 1 min max, 1 min easy, 1 min max, 1 min easy (repeat four times)
- 5 mins running at a cool-down intensity
Pool running workout 2
Workout 2 is aimed at people looking for a combination of aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Tapping into both systems will build strength and improve your cardiovascular health.
- 10 mins running at an easy warm-up intensity
- 3 mins of moderate intensity, 1 min of easy (repeat five times)
- 15 sec run at max followed by 15 sec easy (repeat five times)
- 10 mins running at a cool-down intensity
Pool running workout 3
Workout 3 is perfect for those who want to improve their aerobic fitness. This workout is also an excellent starting point for those who are new to pool running and are looking to build their base fitness levels.,
- 5 mins running at an easy warm-up intensity
- 1 min run at moderated intensity, 30 sec easy (repeat ten times)
- 5 mins running at a cool-down intensity
If followed correctly, these workouts will improve your strength and conditioning and quicken your recovery. Pool running is also an excellent cross-training exercise, especially for athletes looking to change up their workouts.