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Fitness Trackers:  What are they, do you need one and which ones best

Posted by Jill Derryberry on Nov 6, 2021 9:19:06 AM

Best Fitness Trackers

What are fitness trackers? 


I think everyone has heard about fitness trackers in some form, from a simple pedometer to a GPS enabled smart watch that costs hundreds of dollars.  “Getting your steps” in has become part of our lexicon.  Just in case you aren’t aware, a fitness tracker is a small electronic device that tracks physical activity.  Pedometers track just the number of steps you take, other fitness trackers can also collect data about your sleep, the estimated number of calories you’ve burned, your heart rate, distance covered and more. Many trackers provide simple data on the device's display, with more detailed data available online or via their app. They can help monitor our progress regarding our health, sleep or movement, as well as give real-time feedback and statistics about our fitness goals.  This can be incredibly encouraging and helpful for many people to get more physical activity.   


When it comes to tracking your health and workouts, there are two main categories: fitness trackers and smart watches. Fitness trackers monitor your health and wellness, and track things like sleep, heart rate, steps, and workouts.  Smart watches have the same capabilities as fitness trackers, but also have smartphone features, like texting, calling, and other app integrations. 


Do you really need a fitness tracker? 


If you are just starting out, a fitness tracker can give you a picture of how active you are (or aren’t).  Many of us overestimate how active we are and how many calories we have burned and underestimate how many calories we have taken in.  A fitness tracker can help by monitoring your activity and approximate number of calories burned each day.  In some cases, it can be a good wakeup call and then motivation to improve.  Most fitness tracker data can be synced with an app where you can track your calorie intake which can be beneficial for those looking to lose weight or improve their health.  


Fitness trackers can be a source of motivation by prompting movement (my Apple watch will remind me if I haven’t met a move goal or exercise goal or stand goal).  For me, being able to see how many days I have met my set goals is a source of motivation just as much as seeing that I haven’t met those goals for the day is encouragement to get it done.  For others it can be beneficial to share your fitness tracker statistics with friends and family who also have the same tracker.  Doing this allows you to see each other’s metrics and you can challenge each other to move more.  Keep in mind though, don’t let your fitness tracker shame you.  Rest days are important, and most fitness trackers don’t acknowledge that enough.  Customize your goals on your tracker or smart watch to be right for you and your fitness plan.   


Some studies have shown that fitness trackers and smart watches are not that accurate when it comes to steps taken, heart rate and calorie expenditure.  Most people have wrist worn fitness trackers or smart watches that monitor your heart rate.   Studies show the wrist worn heart rate monitors generally aren’t as accurate as chest worn heart rate monitors.  It doesn’t mean the heart rate data can’t be helpful, but it is good to remember it is an estimate rather than an exact reading.  The same is true for the other data collected, including number of calories burned.  Trackers give you real-time information about your level of activity. Even though most of the metrics they collect are estimates, they are far more accurate than any guesses we make about our fitness levels. 


What are the best fitness trackers? 


I’m not an electronics expert, but here is a short list from what I have found in my research (online and from my own use) of the most well-known brands with the most options of trackers to choose from.   There are hundreds of options for fitness trackers.  Literally, there is something for everyone since they all have different price points, options and functions.  It is best to decide what features you want in a fitness tracker before your purchase so you can get exactly what you are looking for.  What is the feature most important to you?   Do you want a smart watch that will sync with your phone, or do you just want something to track your steps?  Do you want GPS in your tracker or the capability for it to use your phone’s GPS?  Does it need to be able to track your sleep?  Do you want to be able to swim with it on?  What data are you most interested in tracking?  With so many functions available, it is good to determine what will be most helpful for you.  Also, it is a good idea to check out online reviews and the company’s website prior to purchase.   


Fitbit is probably the most well-known fitness tracker company and has at least eight (8!) different types of fitness trackers in their current lineup.  They range in cost starting around $90 and go all the way up to $300+.  They also vary in function and size.  If you don’t want all the bells and whistles of a smart watch, the Fitbit Inspire or Flex might be best for you.  These models are smaller than watches (more like a bracelet), lightweight, less expensive and have fewer functions than other models, but still tracks your steps taken, sleep, active minutes, and lets you set silent alarms that alert you by buzzing on your wrist.     


According to the website Wired and a few other sites I saw, the Fitbit Charge 4 is ranked the best all-around fitness tracker.  It has built in GPS, an app that is easy to use and allows you to connect with a community of other users.  It has a function that will monitor your sleep.  Some of the more advanced features require an annual subscription at an additional fee.  Fitbit has released a newer sleeker version of the Charge, version 5, that is also available now.   


apple watch fitness tracker

If you have an iPhone, an Apple Watch might be the best fitness tracker for you.  It’s not just a device that can track your steps, minutes of exercise, heart rate, sleep, estimated calorie expenditure and number of hours you stood for at least a minute (this is not a complete list of features, and they vary based on the model and version you have).  It is also a smart watch that will allow you to text and talk from your watch along with syncing with many other of your phone’s functions.  It will link to the health and fitness apps on your phone so you can see all your fitness and health data there as well as all the awards you can earn by completing challenges. The Apple Watch has you select three daily health goals.  One for movement (the number of calories you burn with activity), the number of hours you stand at least a minute and the amount of time you exercise.  The rings on your watch will show your progress for these goals and it can get addictive to those like me that want to close their rings and meet those goals each day.  Newer models of the Apple Watch (series 6 and above) have blood-oxygen monitoring, ECG and integration with Fitness+, Apple’s new on-demand streaming workout service (Fitness+ requires an additional fee).  The Apple Watch 7 was just released with even more advanced health features as well as a mindfulness app.  


Do you have an android phone but still want a smart watch that links with your phone?  The Samsung Galaxy Watch has many of the same features of the Apple Watch.  It is made to pair with Android operating systems.   


Garmin also has a variety of watches that track your fitness data.  Their entry level tracker, the Venu Sq and SQ Music Edition has an LCD touchscreen with an always on option (some older Apple Watch models and Fitbit do not have an always on option).  The Garmin Venu Sq includes blood-oxygen monitoring and sleep tracking without any additional subscription.  Garmin has advanced metrics through their Garmin Connect app.   Runners have been known to love the Garmin Forerunner Series.  These watches start at the lower price end for Garmin and do a great job at tracking walks and runs.  Some versions allow the programming of intervals and really focus on having the best GPS to track running routes and the best running metrics to track your training. 


Not everyone will benefit from a fitness tracker. For example, if you mostly lift weights, it might not be helpful. But for the majority, they can be useful. For instance, if you spend most of your time in an office chair, your fitness tracker can be a personal trainer. It will help you stay active with daily activity prompts, information about yourself, and a community of fitness enthusiasts like you to keep you motivated.  If you believe you will benefit from one of these devices, buy one that will provide you with the data you need.  Not all trackers have the same features, so do your homework before making a purchase.   



Topics: LivRite News

The Benefits of Exercise and How to Fit it In Your Schedule

Posted by Jill Derryberry on Oct 7, 2021 4:32:25 PM

Physical activity benefits your physical and mental health in so many ways, it should be an important part of your lifestyle. There is so much research to support the case for exercise, yet so many of us don’t do it. Physical activity is not just for weight loss or to change how you look.   It makes people healthier and prevents, improves or delays many chronic health conditions. So if we know exercise is good for us, helping us to live longer and healthier lives, why don’t we don’t all do it regularly?


The World Health Organization (WHO) defines physical activity as, “any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure. Physical activity refers to all movement including during leisure time, for transport to get to and from places, or as part of a person’s work. Both moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity improve health.”


Most evidence suggests that the type of exercise done is far less important than whether to be active at all. About half of adult Americans don't meet one of the most oft-cited guidelines, which calls for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (a fast-walking pace) most days of the week. This doesn’t have to be done in 30-minute increments, you can accumulate that total in bouts of 10 to 15 minutes. About a quarter of American adults say they don’t take the time for any physical activity at all.


Research suggests that the long-term health benefits are not motivating enough to change individuals’ daily habits. Despite that fact, I still want to review some of those amazing physical and mental changes and improvements you can make to your life by getting in regular physical activity.


Just A Few of The Benefits of Physical Activity


Reduce Risk of Some Cancers – Exercise has many effects on the body like the lowering of sex hormones, preventing high blood levels of insulin, reducing inflammation, and managing weight. All these outcomes have been associated with the lower risk of specific cancers and other chronic diseases. While some evidence is observational, more and more evidence is showing that higher levels of physical activity are linked to lower risk of several types of cancer.


Prevent or Manage Diabetes – Physical activity can lower your blood sugar levels and help your insulin work better. This can cut down your risk for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. If you already have one of those diseases, exercise can help you manage it.


Improve Heart Health – Cardiovascular exercise trains your heart to beat slower and stronger, so it needs less oxygen to function well; your arteries get springier, so they push your blood along better; and your levels of "good" HDL cholesterol go up. This helps lower your risk of heart diseases. Regular exercise can also lower your blood pressure and triglyceride levels (“bad” cholesterol).


Increase Brain Health & Mood Boosting – Studies have found that exercise can reduce the symptoms of depression, and it changes the brain in ways like antidepressant medications. Physical activity may delay the slide of cognitive decline into dementia, and even once that process has started, exercise can improve certain aspects of thinking.


Improved Quality of Life – Physical activity can provide immediate rewards to your current quality of life. Regular exercise can increase your energy, help you sleep better, boost your immune system and lower your stress level.


How to Make Physical Activity A Part of Your Life


We know it is a good thing, but how do we fit in exercise in our otherwise mostly sedentary busy lives? Plus, exercise is not easy. It is supposed to feel challenging while you do it sometimes, that is how you get stronger, and it eventually feels easier (as you get stronger).   Here are several suggestions on how to incorporate more exercise into your life. Some require knowing yourself and what would or would not work for you. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good, try different things until you find what is right for you.


Plan a Balanced Routine – a good exercise routine will contain some cardiovascular activity, strength conditioning and stretching.

  • When starting out with cardiovascular activity like walking, running or the elliptical, shoot for 20-30 minutes at a pace where you could carry on a conversation if you had to but couldn’t sing a song. If you can sing, you aren’t going fast enough. For heart health, the American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days of the week. According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), moderate intensity means your heart rate should be between 50% - 70% of your maximum heart rate. An approximate way to calculate your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220.
  • Strength conditioning should be done at least twice a week. Start with working each major muscle group with a weight that you can lift for 10-12 repetitions with the last reps being very difficult. Don’t work the same muscle group on consecutive days and be sure to warm up with a 5-minute walk or other dynamic activity prior to strength training.
  • Stretching should be done after each workout.   Static stretches for each major muscle group should be held for 10-30 seconds.


Fit in Exercise in Creative Ways – It can be difficult to fit in (and stick with) a balanced exercise routine with a busy life of kids, work and/or school. Don’t let that stop you! Less structured physical activity counts too. Find activities to do with your family so you get a workout and spend time with your loved ones. Have family bike rides or basketball games. Explore different parks each weekend and take a hike. Don’t have an hour or more to commit to the gym? Find a trainer that does a 30-minute workout session. Or do 10 minutes of walking at different times throughout your day.


Make Exercise Fun – There are so many things to do that can give you the benefits of exercise that you shouldn’t feel like you are stuck doing something you absolutely hate. Try different types of physical activity to find what you enjoy most. Hiking, dancing, swimming and exercise classes are just a few ways to get your movement in. Find what you like best and don’t be afraid to keep trying new things to mix it up.


Enlist a Walking/Running/Workout Class Buddy - Having someone with you can help make exercising more fun and it can also help you to be more likely to stick with it. You will be less likely to skip that workout class if your friend is there waiting for you. Or maybe you have a weekly lunch with a friend that you can start walking before or after.


Focus on The Immediate Perks of Exercise as well as The Future Benefits – Research shows we don’t always stick to things we don’t see instant (or near instant) results from.   Health and fitness have many long-term benefits that possibly aren’t seen for years or at all. Getting physical activity may prevent many diseases from ever forming, but sometimes that thought isn’t going to motivate a workout. Focus on the outcomes received from exercise in the present day. For example, the feeling of accomplishment after a run or dance class or doing something you couldn’t have done a month ago. The feeling of happiness on and after a bike ride with your kids. The endorphins making you happy after a tough workout. Look out for the ways physical activity makes your current life better to get you moving and the long-term benefits will come.


Don’t be intimidated by all the information, gym equipment or all the different ways to exercise! It can be as simple as adding a walk to your day. Regular trips to the gym are great, but don't worry if you can't find a large chunk of time to exercise every day. Any amount of activity is better than nothing. To reap the benefits of exercise, when you can’t get in a full workout, get more active throughout your day — take the stairs instead of the elevator or rev up your household chores. Consistency, not perfection, is key!


Want more information and to get a workout created especially for you? Sign up for a complimentary Fitness Assessment today!

4 Move Total Body Kettlebell Workout for Beginners

Posted by Jill Derryberry on Sep 13, 2021 12:32:52 PM

Kettlebells are a popular piece of workout equipment. You have probably seen one at the gym, on social media, or on a workout video at some point; they look like a cannonball with a handle on top. Since kettlebell exercises have just gained popularity in recent years in the United States, you might be surprised by how long they have been used as a strength training tool. Although there isn’t any proof as to who invented the kettlebell, or exactly when, there are signs it was used in ancient Greece and the Russian word “Girya” (which translates to kettlebell in English) was published in the Russian dictionary in 1704. Others believe kettlebell training originated in Scotland as a competitive event where an actual kettle was used loaded with weight.


Using a kettlebell involves more muscle groups and uses a wider range of movement than barbells or weight machines. Barbells and weight machines generally target isolated muscle groups directly, whereas the kettlebell can be used in exercises that use more than one muscle group and even full body exercises. Using multiple muscle groups at once in an exercise, or a compound movement, is a more functional way to train and burns more calories than a move working only one muscle group at a time. It is also what helps to increase the heart rate making it a workout for your cardiovascular system as well as a strength workout. This means you can get more of a workout in less time.


Kettlebells are especially great for strengthening your core because they challenge your balance by changing your center of gravity when performing exercises, like squats and lunges for example.


A study done by ACE (American Council on Exercise) and The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Department of Exercise and Sport Science found that after an eight-week training period consisting of a kettlebell class two times a week led by a pair of certified instructors, the participants had not only strength gains, but also had increases in aerobic capacity, improved dynamic balance and increased core strength. The study confirmed that with kettlebells, you are “able to get a wide variety of benefits with one pretty intense workout”.


Kettlebells are prevalent in fitness centers and gyms but might also be a good addition to your home gym. Kettlebells are relatively compact and portable so are a good option for workouts at home as well. They come in a variety of sizes and weights. Depending on your fitness level and the workout you plan to do, there is an appropriate size of kettlebell for everyone. Most kettlebells are cast iron, some are vinyl coated or plastic coated. There are even adjustable weight kettlebells, essentially a set of kettlebells built into the space of one. If you are worried a cast iron weight might damage your floors, there are soft kettlebells available as well. None of these options is better than the other, it all depends on what works best for you.


There are many different exercises that can be done with a kettlebell. If you have never used a kettlebell before, ask a personal trainer or take a kettlebell class to get the basics on form. Here are three moves that can be done with a kettlebell and completed on their own or as a circuit. If performing them as a circuit, complete 10-12 repetitions of each exercise then rest before repeating the circuit two more times. This could be done 2-3 times a week on non-consecutive days.


Important: Throughout all movements with the kettlebell, remember to keep your core tight by drawing your naval into your spine, maintaining control of the kettlebell throughout all movements.


  1. The Kettlebell Swing
Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing is an extremely effective exercise when done with proper form. It combines strength training and cardiovascular conditioning into one movement. This move works many different muscle groups (most of the muscles in your body) but focuses on the core – including the hips, back, abs and glutes.


Start with your feet just a bit wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out slightly. Hold the kettlebell by the handle with both hands and keep your arms loose but straight as you hinge at your hips, sending your hips back while maintaining a flat back, and then squeeze your glutes to drive your hips forward to a standing position keeping your arms straight, the kettlebell swinging to just below shoulder height. Lower the kettlebell to the start position with control.


Once you master the kettlebell swing with two hands, try a one-handed swing. The one arm swing delivers the same benefits as the two-handed swing but with a few extras. Swinging the kettlebell with one arm rather than two puts extra demands on the shoulder and attempts to pull the body into rotation. This means your shoulder stabilizing muscles will work harder and your core muscles will work harder to keep your body forward. The one-handed swing is performed the same way as the two-handed swing except for just one hand holding the kettlebell handle while the other arm is held straight out to the side. Do a number of reps with one arm then switch to do the same number of reps with the other arm.


  1. Kettlebell Goblet Squat
    Goblet squat kettlebell


Hold the kettlebell handle with both hands and close to the front of your body while standing with feet shoulder width apart. Sit back with your hips, keeping your chest lifted as you slowly lower to a squat. Knees travel outward over toes. Lower to a level that is comfortable (but challenging) to you. Straighten legs as you return to the starting position.


  1. Kettlebell Overhead Press
Kettlebell Overhead Press

The kettlebell overhead press takes the kettlebell from the racked position (During this position the kettlebell is held comfortably against the chest with the arm tucked in, wrist straight, shoulder down and Latissimus Dorsi muscle engaged.) to overhead and into a straight arm position. Keep your shoulder down away from your ear while you press your arm up and lower it back down with control. Make sure the kettlebell goes straight up and not in front or behind the head.


  1. Kettlebell Goblet Squat Thruster


Hold the kettlebell handle with both hands and close to the front of your body while standing with feet shoulder width apart. Sit back with your hips, keeping your chest lifted as you slowly lower to a squat. Knees travel outward over toes. Lower to a level that is comfortable (but challenging) to you. Straighten legs and press the kettlebell over your head, keeping your arms as straight at possible. Lower the kettlebell back down to your chest.


Kettlebells can offer a highly effective workout. Kettlebell exercises use multiple muscle groups at the same time which allow you to work your entire body in less time. They target all aspects of fitness, including strength, endurance and power.   When kettlebell workouts are programmed correctly and done with proper form, they can provide a full body mix that will increase your metabolism and generate fat burning hours after your workout has finished. With so many benefits to using kettlebells, and so many ways to work out with them, kettlebell training is for everyone who wants to burn fat, develop full body strength, improve their cardiovascular health and those with little time to exercise.  


Some gyms hold specialized kettlebell classes. (Check out LivRite’s class schedules here!).

The Benefits of Stretching and Why You Should Try Stretching Classes

Posted by Jill Derryberry on Aug 2, 2021 7:01:58 PM

stretching classes

I’m sure you have heard it before; you should stretch after your workout. Or before. Or both. Stretching has long been talked about as something we should do, but typically it is the first thing to get skipped when we are in a hurry. After this difficult year, stretching is coming back as a hot topic because of the much-needed mind and body benefits that stretching provides.


Benefits of Stretching


Research has shown that stretching can help improve both your body’s flexibility and mobility. Mobility is the range of motion of your joints. Flexibility is the ability of your muscles, tendons and ligaments to lengthen. For example, flexibility is being able to reach down and touch your toes. Your hamstring muscles must lengthen, or be flexible, in order for that toe reach to happen. An example of mobility is your ankle flexing so that you can lower into a squat. If your ankle won’t bend as much, you can’t go as low into a squat. Going back to the toe reach example, someone could have good hamstring flexibility but limited mobility at the hip joint keeping them from reaching their toes (or vice versa). Mobility and flexibility do sometimes go hand in hand, and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same thing. What matters most is that you do need both in order to perform at your best.  


Better flexibility and mobility can help to improve your performance in physical activities, reduce potential aches and pains, decrease your risk of injuries, and enable your muscles to work most effectively. Our everyday lives can lend to shortened muscles, especially after sitting for long periods of time. Shortened muscles, in turn, decrease range of motion and can trigger body aches and pains. Working out can leave our muscles shortened and feeling tight as well. Lengthening the muscles through static stretching after your workout can help your muscles recover from your workout and potentially leave you with less soreness. Stretching helps keep muscles long, healthy and strong.


Stretching should be part of every workout, and not just at the end. As ACE (American Council on Exercise) points out, “Dynamic stretches are often used as part of a warm-up to help increase core body temperature and functionally prepare the body for the movements that are to come. As a result, stretching is often considered an important part of injury prevention, as cold muscles and tendons in the body have a greater likelihood of rupture, strain or sprain.”


Stretching will help you stay active as you age. Improving mobility and maintaining flexibility (which naturally declines as we age) allows our body to stay in top shape. Maintaining flexibility while aging can decrease the risk of injury, improve balance, decrease chronic pain, improve workouts, improves posture and keeps you looking younger! The more we care for our bodies, the longer we can continue to be active and live independently.


Another benefit of stretching beyond flexibility and mobility is possible improvement in hypertension. According to research, when you stretch your muscles, you are also stretching all of the blood vessels that feed into the muscle. This includes your arteries. If you reduce the stiffness in your arteries, there is less resistance to blood flow which can result in a reduction in blood pressure.

Combine stretching with mindful breathing and it can help to reduce stress, tension, anxiety and depression.


Types of Stretches

Static Stretches: to extend a muscle group to its maximal point and holding it for 10-60 seconds. Static stretches can be either active or passive. In an active stretch added force is applied by the individual for greater intensity. Added force is added by an external force in a passive stretch.

Dynamic Stretching: unlike static stretching, dynamic stretches are continuous movements that usually mimic the exercise or sport to be performed. These types of stretches are usually done as a warmup.


Ballistic Stretching: this type of stretching isn’t frequently recommended. It utilizes repeated bouncing movement to stretch the targeted muscle group. The bouncing movements can trigger a stretch reflex and may cause a risk for injury, so they are not usually recommended without supervision from a Trainer.


Stretching Basics


It is important to stretch safely with proper technique. Stretching with improper form could do more harm than good.


Don’t do static stretching (when a stretch is held for 10-60 seconds) with cold muscles. Warm up with some light walking or another activity at a low intensity for 5 -10 minutes before doing any static stretching. Even better, stretch after your workout when your muscles are warm and the stretches will lengthen your worked muscles.


Instead of static stretching before your workout, complete a dynamic warmup with low intensity exercises like walking or dynamic stretches that could be completing similar movements to those in your upcoming workout but at a low level, then gradually increasing the speed and intensity as you warm up.


Dynamic stretching is great for joint mobility. A dynamic warmup features functional movements that move multiple joints through their full range of motion. This type of warm up can even include plyometrics (quick powerful movements) like hopping or jumping. Think jumping jacks or high knee skips. Other examples of great dynamic warm up moves are arm circles, squats, side leg swings and forward leg swings. Through your dynamic warm up, you are putting your joints through their full range of motion and getting your muscles warm because of an increased blood flow which makes your muscles and joints ready for more. This will help to keep proper form throughout your workout, as well as reduce the risk of injury and soreness after your workout.


Don’t lock your joints. Your arms and legs can be straight while stretching, but they shouldn’t be stiff, and your knees and elbows should not be locked.


Don’t bounce in your stretch. Bouncing as you stretch can injure your muscle and actually contribute to muscle tightness.


Watch for pain. You can expect to feel tension while you are stretching, but it shouldn’t be pain. Back off to the point that you don’t feel any pain, then hold the stretch.


Stretch regularly. You will get the most benefits if you stretch at least 2 – 3 times a week consistently.


Remember to breathe! Inhale right before you start the stretch and exhale as you relax your muscles and lean into the stretch. For static stretches, stay in the stretch for at least 30 seconds while breathing in and out normally.


Why Try Stretching Classes?


I don’t know about you, but I tend to rush through static stretching after my workouts, and I don’t do enough flexibility work on its own. It’s the first thing to go when in I’m in a rush. By taking a class specifically for stretching, it ensures each stretch will be held for the optimal time and that more stretching will be done. Also, having a professional lead you through a routine will ensure you will get a total body stretch.


Stretching can also be done with gentle movement, such as tai chi or yoga. But if those are not your favorite, don’t worry, they aren’t the only stretching classes. Many facilities are offering specific stretching classes that are geared to work on the muscle imbalances that can happen as a result of a sedentary lifestyle or that are an outcome from workouts.   Other types of classes will focus more on the stress reduction benefits of stretching. Some stretching classes will blend the strengthening of muscles with stretches to improve balance, mobility, flexibility and strength. All with stress busting benefits as well.


With so many benefits to stretching, and so many options of classes to help to incorporate it into your routine, I hope you don’t skip this important part of keeping yourself healthy again.


Check out LivRite’s class schedule to find a class you love or work with a personal trainer to find the best stretches for your workout.

Topics: LivRite News, Stretching

Why You Should Try Water Aerobics

Posted by Jill Derryberry on Jul 1, 2021 3:06:30 PM

Why you should try water aerobics


It’s summer and it’s hot outside. A great way to cool off and get a good workout at the same time is to add water! Any time of year, exercising in the water is a low-impact activity that takes the pressure off your bones, joints and muscles.


Water aerobics may make you initially think of senior citizens bobbing in a pool, but water workouts have changed and research shows that water aerobics, pool workouts and swimming benefit people of all ages and ability levels.


Water workouts, or aquatic exercise, can work your entire body.


Aerobic: Aquatic exercise can get your heart rate up which can provide a good workout for your cardiovascular system. For those with heart problems, it is helpful to exercise in the water because the heart rate doesn’t increase as much as if the exercises were being performed on dry land.


Strength: Water offers natural resistance, which can help strengthen your muscles. The resistance of the water is about 12 times the level of air resistance. The harder you press during an exercise, the more resistance the water provides. You are using many muscles in your body to move in the water and they are all working against the resistance of the water, therefore, increasing your muscular strength. Some classes use equipment to further increase the resistance of the water which will intensify your workout and strength gains.


Flexibility: A lot of twisting, stretching, and joint movement is required to move through the water, against resistance. This increases flexibility.


Swimming is an extremely effective exercise. It uses your entire body – your abdominals, arms, legs, back and glutes all work to help you swim. It’s also an aerobic activity as your heart rate will increase to move your body through the water. Make sure you have a safe place to swim. Pools are ideal. If you are swimming in lakes or oceans, be mindful of currents, water temperature and other obstacles. And it is never a good idea to swim alone.


Aquatic exercise isn’t just swimming. There are many other ways to exercise in the water. In fact, you don’t need to be a great swimmer to work out in the water. It’s good to know how to swim for safety’s sake, however, many water aerobics classes don’t require swimming for a great workout.


The first organized form of water aerobics was demonstrated by fitness professional Jack LaLane on his television show in the 1950’s. LaLane promoted a healthy diet and the benefits of aerobic exercise. He showed how water aerobics could be one way to get a good cardio workout. As the health and fitness industry became more popular in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the benefits of aquatic exercise became more widely known and it became an organized class at gyms and health clubs across the country.


The modern form of water aerobics, or aquatic exercise, is a fitness program that takes place in the pool. The class is designed to get your heart pumping for a cardiovascular workout without placing undue stress on your muscles and joints. It is often performed in waist or chest deep water and forces your body to move despite the resistance of the water. An instructor will lead the class through movements, usually with music. Sometimes resistive and buoyancy equipment is used to intensify the workout.


The types of water workout classes offered are expanding beyond traditional aerobics as well. Many of the exercises done in the traditional gym setting can also be done in the water, for example, lunges, squats, walking or running. HIIT (high intensity interval training) and boot camp style classes can be done in the water to increase intensity, but lessen the impact on your body. Popular dance classes like Zumba and barre classes now have versions available in the water in some locations.


Since working out in the water works your body while minimizing joint stress, it is an ideal workout for many including (but not limited to) those with arthritis, pregnant women, seniors, individuals who are overweight and those recovering from an injury or surgery.


Research shows that people with rheumatoid arthritis have greater improvement in joint tenderness and in knee range of movement with hydrotherapy than with other forms of exercise. Health benefits for aching joints are long-lasting, according to a study published in 2002 in the Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology, which found fibromyalgia patients still had improvements in symptoms and physical and social function up to 24 months after a hydrotherapy program. Plus, warm water can have a immediate soothing effect on achy joints and muscles. On the flip side, if the weather is hot, swimming can keep you cool while you get in shape. You may even workout longer since you will be cooler in the water.


All of the benefits of exercise can also be obtained through aquatic exercise. A small study showed that participants in a 12-week water aerobics program (two 50-minute classes per week) saw a drop in their blood pressure as well as improvements in explosive strength and body composition.   Another study concluded, “Like exercise on land, aquatic exercise should have a beneficial effect by lowering blood pressure.” Research shows that aquatic exercise lowers blood sugar levels for people with type 2 diabetes.


One common misconception about water workouts are that they are relegated for only the elderly, injured or chronically ill. However, working out in the water actually forces your body to work out harder than if you were on dry land. It’s a great workout for everyone!


Athletes were typically only encouraged to exercise in the pool when they needed to rehabilitate from an injury. However, while this continues to be a good recommendation, more collegiate and professional athletic coaches are seeing value in cross-training in water as a regular off and on season method. Some collegiate football teams, for example, use pool workouts as active recovery after a game. It isn’t just for football players. Performing active recovery in a pool helps to reduce soreness, flushes out lactic acid and prevents a drop-off in performance. A 2010 study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine concluded a "swimming-based recovery session enhanced following day exercise performance.” The hydrostatic pressure from the water increase circulation, reduces swelling and enhances recovery.   Runners can supplement their training with underwater running. There are even underwater treadmills! Coaches have stated that running underwater is just as important as running outside. It helps runners become stronger by running against the resistance of the water, and it helps them to recover from on land training. Healthy athletes benefit from aquatic exercise in more ways as well, like reducing any potential overuse injuries and overcoming any training plateaus by adding a new way of exercise.


Another value of aquatic exercise is that according to research it leads to less muscle soreness and damage after the workout. When comparing high-intensity land and water based plyometrics programs it was found that training in water produced less inflammation and muscle soreness than the land based workout.


Being in the pool or open water is a fun and effective way to exercise for people of all ages and fitness levels and has many benefits. It’s gentle on your joints and muscles but still can provide a total body workout. Plus, being in the water can feel relaxing even though you may be working hard. Adding water workouts to your fitness routine may be a good idea. Mixing up the type of your workouts will help to avoid injury and burnout. Also, if you are planning on increasing your current volume of exercise, the addition of one or a few water workouts is a safe way to do so without increasing your injury risk. New or returning to exercise after some time off? Water workouts are a great way to jump back in to physical activity.


LivRite Fitness has a variety of water aerobics classes in their pool. Find more information and links to the schedule for each location on the LivRite website or in the app. The pool is also available for swimming whenever a class is not in session.

Topics: LivRite News