5 Water Workouts to Help You Beat the Heat — And Feel The Burn

The weather has been about the same all summer — HOT. The scorching sun and out-of-control humidity have probably taken a toll on your fitness routine. After all, no one wants to go for a run when it's 98 degrees before breakfast! But you don't have to risk heat stroke to get a good workout. The solution: Hit the pool.

"You can tailor a water workout to all fitness levels," explains Jane Katz, Ed.D., professor of physical education at City University of New York and author of Your Water Workout. "It's perfect for someone who doesn't exercise and wants to get started, as well as elite athletes who need a new challenge."

Water provides up to 15 times more resistance than air, so your body has to work a little harder to complete each movement. The result is a workout that improves cardiovascular fitness, builds strength and develops flexibility — and you'll barely feel like you're breaking a sweat.

Need some inspiration to get started? Here are five water workouts that will help you stay fit (and cool) for the rest of the summer:

Swim Like the Fishes

It might seem obvious, but swimming is one of the best water workouts around. The repetitive motion of gliding through the water will put you into a state of Zen while working all of the major muscle groups. Swim 100-meter laps, alternating between a front stroke like the crawl and a backstroke. "Focus on being long and relaxed in the water," advises Desiree Ficker, professional triathlete and co-author of The Waterproof Triathlete. "Form is more important than speed."

Aim to swim at least 20 laps with a 15 second rest between each lap. Remember, a lap is two lengths of the pool — from one side to the other and back again — so no cheating! As you become more proficient, add more laps and fewer rests. Swimming will work your shoulders, triceps, biceps and abdominals.

Your reward: Burning 563 calories for a one-hour workout.

Take a Class

Aqua aerobics isn't just for senior citizens in rubber bathing caps. The low-impact fitness classes offer a great all-over workout that burns 285 calories per hour. Most fitness centers that have pools offer water aerobics and fitness classes in addition to their lap lanes.

"Water aerobics is a great starting point for someone who's new to working out in the pool," says Katz. "The instructor can offer suggestions to make the movements easier or more challenging so you can tailor the workout to your fitness level."

One of the biggest benefits of aqua aerobics - someone else designs the workout; all you have to do is play follow the leader.

Must-Haves for Water Workouts

A bathing suit isn't the only thing you need for a water workout. Before you take the plunge, Jane Katz, Ed.D., professor of physical education at City University of New York and author of Your Water Workout, recommends having the following gear poolside:

Water Bottle

Working out in the water might keep you cool, but your body is still sweating. Take regular breaks to hydrate during your workout, just as you would if you were at the gym.

Sunscreen

Sun reflects off the water, putting you at increased risk for sunburn. So, if you're swimming laps in the sun, stay safe by applying waterproof sunscreen before you get in the water.

Waterproof Watch

It's easy to lose track of time when you're in the pool. Keep track of time by wearing a waterproof watch, especially if you're moving between activities during your workout.

Kick It!

Belly flops off the diving board aside, falling in the water is painless so it's a great place to work on your balance. All it takes is a kickboard. Warm up by holding the kickboard out in front of you and using flutter kicks to swim five laps. Then, sit on the kickboard with your legs dangling over the side. Kick your legs and flutter your arms to propel yourself around the pool. Continue for one minute, rest for 15 seconds. Do three reps. You'll work your arms, chest, back, abs and legs. Next, hold the kickboard under the water and place your feet on opposite ends, as if you were surfing. Slowly stand up, extending your arms to your sides to tread water. Bring your legs towards your chest and lower them again. Do 10 reps. In addition to improving your balance, you'll work your abs. Do this for one hour and you'll burn about 246 calories.

Race for the Finish Line

The pavement is hot enough to cook an egg so an afternoon run is out of the question. Hop in the pool instead. Deep-water jogging burns about 340 calories per hour - 100 calories more than jogging on land.

Start with a five-minute warm-up, walking in place in shallow water. Move to deep water and, with or without a buoyancy belt, begin jogging. Set a goal to run for 30 minutes, followed by a five-minute shallow-water cool down.

"Use the same running motion you would if you were running on the road," says Ficker. "Emphasize high knees and drive your arms forward to keep you above water."

A half-hour jog might not seem like much, especially if you're used to putting in more time on the treadmill, but it's long enough to give your back, abs, glutes, hip flexors and quads a good workout.

Feel the Burn

Look even better in your bathing suit with a cross-training workout that burns calories and builds muscle.

Katz recommends a 60-minute cross-training workout that burns 520 calories and is challenging enough for experienced athletes. In shallow water, walk in place for five minutes. Go to the deep end and alternate five minutes of treading water with five minutes of jogging for a total of 20 minutes. At the edge of the pool, place your palms flat on the pool deck and push yourself upwards as high as you can. Lower yourself down until your arms are at a 90-degree angle. Do 20 reps. In shallow water, stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Squat low enough to submerge your shoulders. Jump straight up, bringing your legs together at the top of the jump and land in the starting position. Do 20 reps to firm your thighs and butt.

Note: Calorie counts are based on 155-pound woman.

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