I ran into my friend Becky at the mall a couple of days ago. She looked frantic. She was planning her daughter’s wedding, and was all in a flutter about everything she had to get done. I said “Becky, you look like you could use a break. Do you want to relax?” She meekly nodded – she trusts me a lot. I asked her to meet me at our community indoor pool.
Aqua walking. Becky and I got in lap lanes next to each other, and began walking up and down. I told her not to talk, but just feel the pleasant lightness of the water. One of the best aspects of the water is the buoyancy. The body only has to support a fraction of its own weight, so the experience is very soothing. A person’s heart rate will go down about 10 beats per minute just being in the water, so it adds to the relaxing effect. When it’s too hot to run outside, a restful and soothing break in the cool water feels wonderful.
More Information on Aqua Aerobics & Stress Relief:
- Water Aerobics For Stress Relief
- Water Aerobics and Water Fitness Exercises
- Aqua Yoga For Pain and Stress Relief
Aqua yoga. Another workout that I use a lot when I need to relax is yoga in the water. As I perform the gentle stretching and balancing movements, it just seems like stress flows out of me. I recently found out that yoga in the water has a lot of benefits. It increases blood circulation and stimulates the immune system. The hydrostatic pressure of the water makes the chest wall work a little more strongly to expand the chest to breathe, which strengthens the chest muscles. By the end of the class, I have a hard time remembering what was stressing me.
Aqua tai chi. This is one of my favorites. I found out that tai chi is based on an ancient Chinese martial art, and the movements performed have a defensive or offensive purpose. The big difference from other martial arts – tai chi is performed in super slow motion. The emphasis is on taking the steps and making the arm movements correctly, not how fast they can be done. On land, tai chi looks like a graceful and slow ballet. It is wonderfully graceful. Add in the water component, and it’s an amazing combination. The soothing water flows around me as I step through the rhythmic movements, and my arms wave gently through the water.
The results. After a relaxing workout in the water, I know I will sleep well that night. I can feel how it has released endorphins by the way my mood improves. After about 30 minutes, I climbed out of the water, and Becky did the same when she got back to my end of the pool. I looked at her, and the return of her usual bubbly smile told me a lot. “When can we do this again?” she asked. I just laughed. “So you feel more relaxed?” She went on for about five minutes about how wonderful she felt. She had a renewed energy, she loved being in the water, her muscles felt like they had unwound, that tightness in her neck had gone away.
“Becky.” She looked at me. “What were you so stressed about?”
I could see her concentrating to try and remember. After a few seconds we both broke out in laughter, because we both knew I had just proved my point.