The headline atop this article sounds like an old medicine man hawking juice that is too good to be true and likely laced with heavy alcohol or some drug. But stay with me and you’ll be exposed to an amazing liquid substance that has the power to dramatically change lives, even though a majority of people are too afraid to try it.
Today’s miraculous elixir?
Getting your feet wet in water may be the small change that creates momentum to make you dramatically healthier. Benefits include losing weight, regaining movement in dysfunctional joints and even sleeping better.
If you have stopped exercising due to pain or other limitations, here are easy, non-stressful and low-impact ways to get a bit more exercise.
Water aerobics is at the top of the list for all ages, particularly for those overweight, over 40 or just beginning an exercise program. Now is a great time to get started with hundreds of pools and even rivers and oceans open and warm for you.
For Newbies, there is no need to get your hair wet and you don’t need to know how to swim.
Here is how to get started:
Step 1 – WATER WALKING: Enter shallow water to about waist deep and slowly start off walking. Keep your arms in the water by your side and move them as you walk.
Feel the resistance and how the water supports your knees and hips. Lengthen your spine and walk by putting pressure on your heel first and then your toes, instead of walking on your tippytoes.
Stand tall and engage your core as you walk. Keep walking for 5-10 minutes and see how it feels. Continue doing this often and increasing your time.
Step 2 – WATER JOGGING: When you feel comfortable move to light water jogging (jogging in place is fine). If you are way past your ability to jog on land, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is in the water.
Step 3 - AQUA AEROBICS: Sign up for an aqua-aerobics class, available at YMCAs in Hinesville, Savannah, Pooler and Brunswick. Your local YMCA membership gives you access to all Coastal Y pools. It’s amazing how many Richmond Hill folks go to Hinesville’s aqua classes, which are sometimes taught by me. Other locales are the Richmond Hill Swim Club, Chatham County Aquatic Center and many other outdoor venues during the summer.
If you like, learn to swim (no matter your age). Richmond Hill Swim Club and area YMCAs with pools all offer easy-does-it swim lessons.
You’ll see why water exercise is a go-to recommendation for many doctors and physical therapists dealing with injuries or aging conditions like arthritis and/ or other inflammatory conditions. Regarding arthritis, the Mayo Clinic cautions that patients must choose the right kinds of activities that build the muscles around the joints but don’t damage the joints themselves.
Mayo recommends avoiding activities that involve high impact and repetitive motion such as: running, jumping, tennis, high-impact aerobics and repeating the same movement, such as a tennis serve, again and again.
Conversely, Mayo notes for arthritis the right movement through water exercise can decrease your pain and stiffness, improve your range of motion, strengthen your muscles and increase your endurance. Water’s buoyant environment relieves the pressure on the limb and spine. For strength building, due to water’s drag and the opportunity for increased resistance, you don’t have to grab or hold free weights to work out muscles. Although moderate physical activity such as brisk waking is safe for most people, health experts suggest that you talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program if any of the following apply: you have heart disease, type 1 or type 2 diabetes and/or you have kidney disease (Mayo Clinic).
My own experience has been that aqua aerobics discussed here builds your stamina and muscles reliably without pain so you can get better sleep.
Two of the most powerful and easiest actions for health and retaining youth are moving in water and drinking more water.
Research shows that dedication to just one makes a dramatic difference for people.
Dedication to both aspects can catapult you to the minority of people who are actually making themselves physically younger from a health standpoint.
This gives you the chance to literally do more, enjoy more and be more for a much longer part of your life.
Lasting life-extending change comes only from consistently choosing different healthy actions. For those who traditionally stay away from water, just getting your feet wet can bring lasting change faster and easier than you imagine!
Mike Thompson is a health coach and writes about nutrition and amazing aging. He lives in Richmond Hill, is certified in exercise nutrition and founder of SelfCare Sustained. Reach him at MikeThompson@SelfCare- Sustained.com.