For individuals living with chronic pain and various diseases like Parkinson’s, arthritis, and diabetes, can water aerobics be beneficial?

Water Aerobics: Low-Impact Full-Body Workout

Water Aerobics

Water aerobics are low-impact exercises performed commonly in swimming pools. It is a great way to exercise for a full-body, low-impact workout without overworking the body’s joints and muscles. Other names used include:

  • Aquafitness
  • Aqua aerobics
  • Aquarobics

Many types can be tailored to individual needs, injuries, and/or conditions. The exercises have various health benefits, especially for those who cannot perform higher-impact movements.

How It Works

Water aerobics involves performing certain controlled movements as a form of exercise. Different types focus on various areas of health, including (Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School, 2023)

  • Strength training
  • Cardiovascular
  • Interval training

Individuals can also perform water aerobics if they know the movements involved. (Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School, 2023)

Benefits of Pool Exercises

There are many benefits associated with water aerobics.

Because of the low-impact and full-body nature of the exercises, people can expect to see improvements (Pereira Neiva, H. et al., 2018) (Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School, 2023)

Joint health

  • Water aerobics is gentle on the joints with minimal strain.


  • Water resistance during exercises can improve cardiovascular health without pushing it.
  • Studies have shown that it can also help control blood pressure.


  • Because of the resistance from the water, the muscles work harder.

Weight Loss

  • The water resistance exercises burn more calories than those outside the water, which could lead to more weight loss over time.

Health Conditions That Can Benefit

Some of the health conditions that can benefit from water aerobics include (Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School, 2023)

  • Chronic pain
  • Arthritis
  • Obesity
  • Heart health
  • Blood pressure
  • Stress and Anxiety


Individuals participating in water aerobics will need a bathing suit, towel, goggles, and a swim cap to protect their eyes or hair from chlorinated water. Individuals do not need other special equipment while exercising as the water acts as extra resistance. Foam dumbbells or paddles can be used to increase resistance. Other optional equipment includes: (Plunge San Diego, 2024) (Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School, 2023)

  • Kickboards
  • Wrist and ankle weights
  • Water-jogging belts
  • Swim bar

Pool Exercises

There are many types of pool exercises to help reach health and fitness goals. They include:

Water Walking

  • The basic act of walking in water is a great way to get a full-body workout.
  • Start by standing in waist-deep water with the feet planted on the bottom of the pool.
  • Lengthen the spine by bringing the shoulders up and back and aligning the shoulders with the hips and knees.
  • Once in a good starting position, walk through the water, putting pressure on the heel first and then the toes, just like walking out of the water, while swinging the arms back and forth through the water.
  • This exercise can be done for five to 10 minutes.
  • The muscles that will get the most attention are the arms, core, and the lower body.

Arm Lifts

  • Stand up to the shoulders in water.
  • With the palms facing up, draw the elbows into the torso while lifting the forearms in front of the body up to the water’s surface.
  • Once at the surface, rotate the palms to face down and slowly move the forearms back down to the sides.
  • For more resistance, this exercise can also be done using foam dumbbells.
  • Repeat the action 10–15 times for one to three sets.
  • The muscles targeted are the core and the arm muscles.

Jumping Jacks

  • Water resistance makes jumping jacks in the water much more difficult than on land.
  • To perform, start by standing in chest-level water with your feet together and your arms straight down the sides.
  • Once in position, begin by simultaneously swinging the legs out to the side and arms over the head before returning to the starting position.
  • Muscles targeted include the entire body and cardiovascular system.
  • Add wrist or ankle weights for more resistance and to make the exercise more challenging.

High-Knee-Lift Extensions

  • High-knee-lift extensions are performed while standing in water that is waist deep.
  • To do the exercise, engage the core and lift one leg in a bent position until it is level with the water’s surface.
  • Hold the position for a few seconds, then extend the leg out in front and hold again.
  • After the hold period, move the leg back down through the water to the starting position while keeping it straight and flexing the foot.
  • Repeat on both legs for two to three sets of 15 reps per leg.
  • Use weights on the ankles to increase resistance.
  • The muscles targeted include the core, glutes, and lower body.


While exercising in water, individuals may not notice how much they sweat. This can make it seem like the workout is not as hard and can lead to dehydration. Individuals should always hydrate before and after a pool workout. Individuals who cannot swim well should avoid exercises that do not require a flotation device. Sometimes pools are heated, so choosing one 90 degrees F or below is recommended so the body doesn’t get overheated while exercising.

Stop Pool Exercises Immediately

Performing pool exercises can often seem easier than they are, leading to overworking. Stop exercising immediately if you feel:

  • Pain in any area of the body
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nauseated
  • Faint
  • Dizzy
  • Pressure in the upper body or chest

Other Health Conditions That Benefit

Water aerobics is recommended for most individuals, completely healthy or with a chronic disease. Those with chronic disease have been shown to benefit from the low-impact exercise. (Faíl, L. B. et al., 2022) One study looked at individuals with various health conditions, with the results showing that the following conditions saw improvements after 12 weeks of regular water exercise (Faíl, L. B. et al., 2022)

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Bone diseases
  • High blood pressure
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Stroke
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Parkinson’s disease

While the benefits of water aerobics have been studied and proven effective, individuals should be cleared by a medical professional before starting any new exercise regimen. Injury Medical Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Clinic works with primary healthcare providers and specialists to develop an optimal health and wellness solution through an integrated approach to treating injuries and chronic pain syndromes, improving flexibility, mobility, and agility programs to relieve pain and help individuals return to normal. Our providers create personalized care plans for each patient. If other treatments are needed, Dr. Jimenez has teamed up with top surgeons, clinical specialists, medical researchers, and rehabilitation providers to provide the most effective treatments.

Chiropractic and Integrative Healthcare


Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School. (2023). Basic types of water-based exercises. HealthBeat.

Pereira Neiva, H., Brandão Faíl, L., Izquierdo, M., Marques, M. C., & Marinho, D. A. (2018). The effect of 12 weeks of water-aerobics on health status and physical fitness: An ecological approach. PloS one, 13(5), e0198319.

Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School. (2024). Advantages of water-based exercise. HealthBeat.

Plunge San Diego. (2024). 5 must-have pieces of aquatic exercise equipment for water aerobics. Plunge San Diego.

Faíl, L. B., Marinho, D. A., Marques, E. A., Costa, M. J., Santos, C. C., Marques, M. C., Izquierdo, M., & Neiva, H. P. (2022). Benefits of aquatic exercise in adults with and without chronic disease-A systematic review with meta-analysis. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 32(3), 465–486.

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The information herein on "Water Aerobics: Low-Impact Full-Body Workout" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Specialties: Stopping the PAIN! We Specialize in Treating Severe Sciatica, Neck-Back Pain, Whiplash, Headaches, Knee Injuries, Sports Injuries, Dizziness, Poor Sleep, Arthritis. We use advanced proven therapies focused on optimal Mobility, Posture Control, Deep Health Instruction, Integrative & Functional Medicine, Functional Fitness, Chronic Degenerative Disorder Treatment Protocols, and Structural Conditioning. We also integrate Wellness Nutrition, Wellness Detoxification Protocols and Functional Medicine for chronic musculoskeletal disorders. We use effective "Patient Focused Diet Plans", Specialized Chiropractic Techniques, Mobility-Agility Training, Cross-Fit Protocols, and the Premier "PUSH Functional Fitness System" to treat patients suffering from various injuries and health problems. Ultimately, I am here to serve my patients and community as a Chiropractor passionately restoring functional life and facilitating living through increased mobility. Purpose & Passions: I am a Doctor of Chiropractic specializing in progressive cutting-edge therapies and functional rehabilitation procedures focused on clinical physiology, total health, functional strength training, functional medicine, and complete conditioning. We focus on restoring normal body functions after neck, back, spinal and soft tissue injuries. We use Specialized Chiropractic Protocols, Wellness Programs, Functional & Integrative Nutrition, Agility & Mobility Fitness Training and Cross-Fit Rehabilitation Systems for all ages. As an extension to dynamic rehabilitation, we too offer our patients, disabled veterans, athletes, young and elder a diverse portfolio of strength equipment, high-performance exercises and advanced agility treatment options. We have teamed up with the cities' premier doctors, therapist and trainers in order to provide high-level competitive athletes the options to push themselves to their highest abilities within our facilities. We've been blessed to use our methods with thousands of El Pasoans over the last 3 decades allowing us to restore our patients' health and fitness while implementing researched non-surgical methods and functional wellness programs. Our programs are natural and use the body's ability to achieve specific measured goals, rather than introducing harmful chemicals, controversial hormone replacement, un-wanted surgeries, or addictive drugs. We want you to live a functional life that is fulfilled with more energy, a positive attitude, better sleep, and less pain. Our goal is to ultimately empower our patients to maintain the healthiest way of living. With a bit of work, we can achieve optimal health together, no matter the age, ability or disability.