fbpx Skip to content

Water Exercises – How to make the most of pools near you

In this follow-up post to “Aquatic Therapy at home and in the community – how to make the most of pools near you”. In this post we outline in more detail some exercises to get you started in the water!

How should I get started when training in the water?

No matter what pool environment you plan to exercise in, a warmup and cooldown is important. Your warmup should consist of a minimum of a 5 minute low to moderate intensity cardio. At the end of your session a slow, gradual decrease in heart rate using low intensity exercises is the goal.

If you are wondering how much exercise you should be getting in general, more information can be found in our recent blog post – What are the new physical activity guidelines? How much activity do you need? 

Here are 5 categories and examples of exercises which you may choose, depending on your goals in the water at home:

  1. Movement
  2. Balance
  3. Strength
  4. Plyometrics
  5. Cardio

Movement (Do the various walking patterns for the full width of the pool then switch to the next pattern)

Balance (2 to 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions)

Strength (2 to 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions)

Plyometrics (2 to 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions or 30 sec circuits

Cardio (For example circuits of 30 sec – 1 min exercise, with 15 sec rest – increase as tolerated)

  • Walking in chest deep water.
  • Flutter kicking circuits with flutter board or with hands on side of pool.
  • Eggbeater/treading water circuits. Use a pool noodle for support as required.
  • Lap swimming (breast stroke, front crawl, back crawl, butterfly)


“How do I make exercises easier, or more difficult as I improve?”

Most importantly, be creative! You can:

  • Adjust the speed of your movements against water resistance
  • Increase or reduce the surface area of your equipment to change the forces
  • Choose movements that change the resistance of the water
  • Add more weight or increase the tension of your resistance band
  • Play around with buoyancy – greater submersion or deeper can make balance more difficult.
  • Adjust your base of support – a narrower stance with feet together is often harder, as is tandem walking heel to toe. Consider incorporating these into your other water exercises where applicable.
  • Close your eyes – taking visual feedback out of the equation adds another layer of challenge (just don’t try this in the deep end!)


Brody, Lori Thein, and Paula Richley Geigle, editors. Aquatic Exercise for Rehabilitation and Training. Human Kinetics, 2009.

Layne, Melissa. Water Exercise. Human Kinetics, 2015.


Gavin Parsons

Back To Top